The Corona crisis has left its mark on stationary retail in Germany’s inner cities. Almost 70 percent of the municipalities are reporting a decline in shops in inner-city locations and pedestrian zones as a result of the pandemic. This is shown by the 2022 city survey by the retail research institute EHI Retail.

In shopping centers and district centers, the share is around 50 percent. So-called specialist store locations, on the other hand, proved to be comparatively crisis-proof and even attractive for new openings, reports study leader Kristina Pors, who is responsible for the real estate and expansion research area at EHI. With this type of business, only every fifth municipality complains about closures, six percent even report increases.

But that doesn’t mean the all clear. “Lockdowns and access restrictions in recent years and now a collapse in consumer sentiment due to the Russian war in Ukraine are causing deep concern for many inner-city retailers,” warns Stefan Genth, Managing Director of the German Retail Association (HDE), in an interview with WELT AM SONNTAG. “One crisis follows the next, and as a result, numerous retail companies simply have no financial reserves or reserves left.”

The HDE therefore expects further store closures in the coming months. There is talk of 16,000 businesses that are threatened with closure in 2022. The number of shops dying would be three times higher than in an average year before the pandemic.

Genth is demanding investment aid from the state for stationary trade, for example for digitization or for financing climate protection measures: “Otherwise, in many places there is a risk that numerous inner-city retailers would slowly languish.”

Many businesses could no longer save themselves from the consequences of the long-standing crisis situation on their own. “In the end, there are often deserted city centers. It is important to prevent this, because in this case follow-up care is more expensive than preventive care.”

Numerous reallocations and conversions of retail properties in the inner city area can already be observed, as reported by the municipalities in the EHI survey. In the process, shops will become apartments and offices, kindergartens and medical practices, as well as leisure and entertainment facilities.

46 percent of the cities and municipalities estimate the current vacancy rate to be up to five percent of the shops, 38 percent see the rate at up to ten percent, two percent of those surveyed report a vacancy rate of more than 20 percent.

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