The average retail vacancy rate in Amsterdam has been less than 5% for a long time. However, shopping centers Boven 't IJ, Amsterdamse Poort and Osdorpplein have a rate of 7 to 12%. This vacancy is not caused by an oversupply of shops, but by a wrong retail mix. A situation that is comparable to that in many medium-sized municipalities in the Netherlands.
The districts North, New West and Southeast are rapidly gaining popularity among home buyers. This not only ensures a growing population, but also a different population composition with more wealthy households. This gentrification leads to a broader consumer mix and offers opportunities for real estate owners and local authorities to successfully improve these areas. In any case, it requires a different range of shops that better resonates with the changing group of consumers.
Too many stores for non-daily products
In many foreign cities, a changing retail mix in urban district centers is already visible. In London, 27% of the retail offering consists of services such as dry cleaning, temporary employment agency, beautician, broker or bank branch. The food & beverage industry also has a share of 27% here. This is considerably higher than in Amsterdam’s district centers with percentages between 15% and 20%. More striking is the low share of stores with non-daily products in London. Only 28% compared to 37 to 45% in Amsterdam.
Invest in the future
But more needs to be done. In London, the shopping areas are interwoven in the area. In Amsterdam, the district centers are outdated and separate from their environment. Too often, planning is still limited to the specific retail area, for example, parking is preferred over shops instead of residential units that strengthens the area as a whole. This is a great challenge for Boven 't IJ, Amsterdamse Poort and Osdorpplein. In order to realize the improvements, investments from shopping center owners are required. This is difficult because divided ownership creates different interests and a lower willingness to invest. This obstructs a good vision and focus on the area.
Cooperation between owners and the municipality is also essential for a successful transformation. The infrastructure requires innovation. In addition, consideration should be given to building additional houses around and above the district centers. This creates more unity with the surrounding environment. The needs and composition of the population keep changing. It is imperative that the urban district centers also take this into account. Only this way they can increase their connection with the local environment.