WAs the online fashion retailer Zalando cannot get rid of its digital shop, it is now selling on the splendid “Kö” shopping street in Düsseldorf. The Berlin digital company has just opened its largest outlet store there with shoes, clothes and suits on three floors. Most of the chic shops from Gucci to Louis Vuitton are still rather empty here, while customers jostle in the Zalando branch. The Swedish fashion retailer H&M used to have a shop in the same location. As in Düsseldorf, the everyday corona restrictions are disappearing in the cities. Shops open, restaurateurs are once again serving guests on site, and life is returning to the shopping streets. Is everything as before after the crisis, or is vacancy spreading in the centers?
From Dortmund, the view of the city center sounds almost surprised: “Apparently, the city of Dortmund has so far been spared the very large wave of vacancies,” says the city administration. Vacancies would not last. The city is always looking for contact with owners of empty shops, but the feedback is often that the subsequent use has already been determined or is currently being negotiated. In Hanover, on the other hand, the administration does not recognize any large contiguous vacancies with the exception of the former Karstadt property in Georgstrasse. In Duisburg, the vacancy rate is at the same level as it was before the corona pandemic for the city center, reports Andree Haack, deputy for economics: “As the economic department, we hold regular talks with the local banks, which currently do not fear a large wave of insolvencies.”
The trade association HDE is closely monitoring the situation in the city centers. In the corona pandemic, the association had warned of the impending end of more than 100,000 stores. The association is unable to estimate how many have actually given up. But also because, due to the still existing corona restrictions, sales are often below the pre-crisis level, the association would like more backing from politics – especially on one issue.
All doors open
It’s about the Sunday openings, which are extremely unpopular with churches and trade unions. “In the short term, with a view to a powerful restart after the pandemic, it should be open to all retailers to open their doors to all customers at least the remaining Sundays this year,” HDE Managing Director Stefan Genth urged the FAZ. “That would be a clear signal to the people that the city centers are open again and that the shops are open again for everyone. It also gives retailers the chance to make up at least some of the sales lost during the lockdowns. ”Genth refers to the many other sectors of the economy that are open on Sundays, from restaurants to cinemas to theaters. He also feels confirmed when looking abroad: “Even in strongly Catholic EU countries such as Italy and Poland, customers can generally shop on Sundays. A German special role is not understandable here. “
If the effects of regional Sunday openings are extrapolated to the whole of Germany, the HDE estimates that around one billion euros in sales could be achieved in retail outlets across Germany on an open Sunday. “Of course, sales from online trading, which has an average turnover of around 200 million euros on an average Sunday, will also shift to Sunday,” says Genth.
Fashion retailers in particular have suffered from closed shops and the opening only to customers with a negative test. Now discount battles are pending to get the warehouses empty. In the past few years, chains such as Gerry Weber or Tom Tailor have closed numerous branches. Appelrath Cüpper or Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof have gone through insolvency proceedings. Companies whose online business is flourishing, such as the perfumery chain Douglas, are also significantly thinning out their branch network.