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Business closures: Retail warns of “ghost towns”

Business closures: Retail warns of “ghost towns”

The number of shops in Germany’s city centers has been falling for years – other Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof branches will soon have to close. The trade association is therefore calling for a summit.

Vacancies, bankruptcies, slack consumption: In view of the difficult situation among retailers and in many city centers, the German Trade Association (HDE) is calling on the federal government to hold a city center summit. “If retail goes, entire city centers will collapse. If people no longer have a reason to visit the city center, then there will be a risk of ghost towns. This has enormous consequences. For the economy, people’s sense of life and home, and also for society as a whole,” said HDE President Alexander von Preen of the dpa.

According to HDE, the number of retail stores in Germany has fallen from 372,000 to 311,000 since 2015. Another 5,000 closures are expected next year. The uncertainty in the industry recently increased due to the renewed insolvency of the Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof department store group. The new owners want to take over at least 70 of the 92 branches. However, some cities have to expect that the local Galeria branch will close and this will affect the environment and business of other retailers.

Industry association wants better coordination and networking

In the fight against the “decline of many inner cities”, the industry association is now holding politicians accountable. The core responsibilities for the issue of the city center clearly lie with the Federal Ministry of Construction. But there are areas in which the Federal Ministry of Economics or Federal Transport are active, said von Preen. An annual summit with all those involved could improve coordination.

In order to enable a platform for knowledge transfer, the HDE is also supporting a city center academy. The aim is to network cities and show successful initiatives in order to find ways out of the crisis. The financing could be anchored in the federal budget via a separate budget title.

More support for founders required

Von Preen also believes that a start-up offensive is necessary. “We also have to see the vacancies as an opportunity and encourage people to open their own business in the city center, similar to the greenfield start-up centers.” Founders should receive a subsidy for a maximum of 60 months; settlement managers could record vacancies and organize new tenants.

The retail industry is coming together in Berlin today and Wednesday for its annual retail real estate congress. Guests include the Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Construction, Klara Geywitz (SPD).

Source: Stern

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