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Stationary retail invigorates city centers. Photo: pisaphotography / Stationary retail invigorates city centers. Photo: pisaphotography /

Retail shops: indispensable for urban life

Manuel Jahn
Manuel Jahn
Head of Business Development, Habona Invest

With increasing digitalization people’s lives and daily routines change, and, thereby, their demands for space and time. The property industry plays an important part in shaping this change. It implements numerous projects in close partnership with local authorities and the local population. Successful projects from the retail segment are the subject of a new book published by the ZIA Zentraler Immobilien Ausschuss entitled “Einzelhandel als Partner der Kommunen. Stadtentwicklung durch lebendige Marktplätze” (“Retailers as partners of the communities. Urban development through lively marketplaces”).

Practical examples of local cooperation

The book presents various practical examples, such as the Unibail-Rodamco development Erlangen Arcaden and their influence on the local city center, the establishment of DECATHLON at a specialty market location in Bielefeld-Sennestadt near a freeway as well as the repositioning of the Förde Park shopping mall by MEC METRO-ECE Centermanagement and its integration in the general urban retail space development of Flensburg. Other examples are REWE’s involvement in catering for the local population in Frankfurt Riedberg and the reconstruction of Brunswick Palace in combination with the implementation of the Schloss-Arkaden by ECE, as well as IKEA’s first city store in Hamburg and its most sustainable furniture store of the world in Kaarst.

Retail indispenable for the liveliness of cities

The practical examples mainly focus on the cooperation with local players as well as the integration in urban retail structures. They demonstrate the sustainable success of such collaborative projects and provide orientation for other communities and investors. After all stationary retailers are indispensable for the liveliness and further economic development of our cities. They are the most important foundation for providing for people in our country and actually create lively and dynamic marketplaces – not just with their numerous jobs. And with about Euro 466 billion per year local retail sales are clearly higher than the remote retail sales of Euro 55 billion.

From a regulatory point of view stationary retailers in poorer position than digital marketplaces 

In view of their great economic and infrastructural significance it is surprising that stationary retailers are often in a poorer position compared to the development opportunities of digital marketplaces, when it comes to regulations. In many places the development, expansion or modernization of retail spaces takes much longer – keywords are: protracted planning and permission processes, rigid shop opening hours, restrictions to the product mix or shop floor limitations, while people generally appreciate the value of stationary shops. Thus, according to a forsa survey – also on behalf of the ZIA – a clear majority of customers in Germany still prefer stationary retailers, because they had rather test and see products on site and don’t want to go without personal advice.

With its book the ZIA makes an important contribution to raising the appreciation of stationary retailers. Thus, reading the book provides many impressions as to how the city is strengthened, if retailers are successful and projects are implemented in close cooperation between all relevant players.

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