The structural change that is underway in the retail sector is having an impact on inner cities and their basic functions. However, the impact of the competition between online and offline retailers, including competition on retail space will differ depending on the type of location. A survey conducted by the Institute for Trade Research in Cologne suggests that it is offline retailers in rural areas, small towns and less attractive outskirts of cities are likely to incur the worst losses. In the case of medium-sized centres, much will depend on how centralised these are. But even large cities will feel an impact.

Solutions are needed, for instance to ensure that we

  • Identify what makes a vibrant town or city
  • Develop well-functioning ways of cooperation between municipalities, retailers, and the hospitality sector
  • Redefine city marketing with initiatives such as “buy local” or “buy where your home is”
  • Create cross-channel platforms for entire cities and regions
  • Find ways of dealing with abandoned retail space and with anchor tenants; discuss the issue of ‘specialist retailers on the outskirts vs. the inner city and that of ‘retail space being converted into housing space’