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Babyboomers carve another hole in shopping streets

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The convenience of online shopping has been discovered by the older generations. The corona outbreak has 'finally' convinced a third of people between the ages of 50 and 80. They plan to continue to buy more online, even after the virus. This means less traffic in the shopping streets, leaving almost one in five shops in medium-sized cities empty by 2021.

Shopping behavior changed at an accelerated pace
Recently, four in ten people have bought more online. Clothing and shoes (+13%), personal care (+10%) and books and magazines (+ 7%) were particularly popular. In addition, 260,000 households did their grocery shopping for the first time online.

This sharp increase will flatten as we go to the stores more often now than during the lockdown. Yet almost 37% of Dutch people plan to order more products online in the future. For people over 50, that percentage is not much different. "That is striking, because it is the baby boomers and generation X who previously bought little online," said Chris Lanting, Head of Retail Agency at Colliers. "Now that this group's shopping behavior is also changing, this has major consequences for the shopping streets in our country."

Fashion industry is shrinking
This development leads to growing retail vacancy. The fashion industry is particularly affected. Clothing and shoes were purchased even more in web shops than before the corona crisis, when consumers already liked to select their wardrobe online.

“Based on the expected drop in turnover in brick-and-mortar stores, more than 100,000 square meters less space is needed in the fashion industry. This is equal to the surface area of all shops in the city center of Arnhem combined,” says Lanting. “Stores that sell books and magazines, household appliances, electronics and toys are also oversized. We have about 50,000 square meters too much of those. ”

One in five stores is empty
Retailers will base their choice of location even more on the number of visitors, the regional appeal and the turnover per square meter they can achieve. Many of them will therefore focus on the seventeen largest shopping cities in the country. From Amsterdam and Rotterdam to Groningen and Maastricht.

The downfall takes place in the layer below. These are cities with a population of between 35,000 and 150,000, where there are too many shops, such as Heerlen, Rijswijk, Lelystad, Almelo and Den Helder. Vacancies of almost 17% are already reality in these places. Now that the elderly in particular have found their way to online shopping, it is expected that one in five stores will be vacant here in the short term.

Municipalities now have to take control
The growing vacancy requires a long term solution. This concerns the clustering of shops, and the return of facilities that moved away years ago, such as small-scale offices or public services, or a transformation to housing.

“Given the economic situation, real estate investors are less likely to take the initiative. It is up to municipalities to take control,'' Lanting concludes. "Now is the time to invest anti-cyclically and work towards an attractive, pleasant, sustainable and therefore future-proof retail area."

Babyboomers carve another hole in shopping streets

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Chris Lanting

Director Retail


 2008-2016: Dynamis Strijbosch Thunnissen Makelaars Region Arnhem/Nijmegen:

Created the retail leasing department and extended this profitable business unit to a market leader in the region.

2016-Now: Colliers International:

Director Retail. Responsible for Retail Agency / specialized in shopping centres and cooperation with other serviceslines within Colliers which are active in Retail (Asset Services, Retail Marketing, Design&Development, Research, Valuations, Food&Beverage and Capital Markets. Strongly focussed on data driven service en solutions as well as an integrated marketapproach. 

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