Real Estate

Thinking about new set-up of shopping areas is necessary

July 27, 2015

Investors and municipalities must take the time to carefully plan the filling of vacant spaces "A shopping area provides a care service and we need to start thinking about filling this role," says Associate Professor Ingrid Janssen in an interview with Inbeeld, the magazine of investment manager Bouwinvest.

Image: © Nationale Beeldbank

"Vacancy rates vary widely among municipalities, and even within provinces and regions there are big differences," says Janssen. "The shrinkage areas of Limburg and Groningen are at the top of the vacancy list. The cities of Kerkrade, Sittard, or Geleen have a 30 to 40% vacancy rate. It is not doom and gloom everywhere in Limburg, when you look closer you will also find some gems. Although the inner cities have a high vacancy rate, the biggest problem lies especially in the major shopping malls including home furnishings malls."

Janssen is optimistic about the future of the retail market. She thinks a certain vacancy rate is healthy and necessary to enable innovation in the retail market. "I think we as industrious Dutch people with our cultural aptitude can stay ahead of vacancy rates such as are prevalent in the office sector. However, it is still a sizeable bitter pill to swallow, especially on the investors’ side. If you have vacant real estate in surrounding streets, you will still have to do something. We can, of course, set up all kinds of working groups, but in the end it is still a game between retailer and landlord."

That game will be played very differently than has been done up to now, says Janssen. “More thought will have to be given to flexibility and more attention paid to what the retailer wants."

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Winkellandschap in transformatie, Inbeeld (2015) - in Dutch

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