Meryem A. is an international legal counsel, living in Casablanca. At the time of the interview, she is visiting the Mall with her 20-year old daughter.
“I mostly go to the Mall for my daughter. We go to Zara. I don’t stay long”. She is quick to stress that she feels she is not a typical Mall shopper because she travels a lot for work and shops wherever she finds something that suits her style. She dresses trendy, colourful, sophisticated. Her Michael Kors sunglasses? “I bought them overseas, they are not available in Morocco”.
Uniqueness rather than brands is what drives her choices. For instance, while everyone is in love with Louis Vuitton handbag in Casablanca, she went for a tomato-red leather bag sans label. “Now my daughter regrets her decision not to have picked it up at the store in Milan. A client has asked that I buy one for her the next time I travel” she says.
“The Mall has become crowded by masses who cannot afford to brunch at the [upscale French bakery] Paul but can shop at Zara and H&M. Both stores are hits. Top brands are in the right place there because there is a clientele: women. They always buy something. To them, shopping is an escapade, an anti-boredom activity, a pretext to go out…
Another reason for going to the Mall: given the hassle for parking in Casablanca, the Mall is a great solution. It’s practical. Second, the mall is a secure place. Parents feel comfortable with letting their teens play around there rather than having them driving around Casablanca and facing the hazards downtown.
Personally I go there occasionally.”
Yasmina K. is 30-something years old, originates from Marrakesh. She has a mid-level managerial position in a food company in Casablanca.
“I used to be disappointed with the Mall because one, they don’t have my size and two, I don’t want to look like a waitress. I don’t buy cheap suits. Lately I have returned…there is [the French brand] Un Jour Ailleurs, so I kind of returned to the Mall. My sister also drags me a lot there. I go twice a week. Every time I go, I buy something. It’s really impossible to go and not buy something.
Malls have created a thirst for spending in Morocco. People used to want to do savings. Now they want to follow trends, they want to spend. “This is fast fashion, I can afford to spend” is the way they think.
I have noticed that people buy local for replacement things like jewellery, bags, make-up. But for bigger purchases those who can go abroad, go abroad or have somebody do purchases abroad for them.
95% of my wardrobe is from overseas. I wanted a trench coat for the rainy season, I was very specific, I never found it there. I was into the habit of asking, but here [in Morocco] the customer service doesn’t work for random people and first time customers. Nobody does the extra mile for you. So with my wishlist, my criteria, my price points, many times I couldn’t find anything, I left with nothing.
Morocco Mall has changed people’s life. We had no library, no public parks for kids…”