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Shopping and the city ? Commerce in Eastern Europe comes back to towns

Malls at every exit to the highway, big boxes on extended surfaces – modern commerce in Eastern Europe spread on the outskirts of the cities. Slowly, there is another trend in cities such as Budapest, Prague, Bratislava, Warsow, Zagred or even Bucharest. Thus, there are commercial areas situated near historic centres or residential areas. In some cities there are malls even on the old commercial streets. “It is not about reluctance on the part of investors, but a lack of facilities that modern retail could not find in the centres of the cities, thus making way to consumers differently” Hanna –Bomba-Wilhelmi, CEO RegioPlan Consulting said.

From the point of view of the consumer, the historic centre of Prague is the most attractive. The Czech capital obtains the best mark as regards the mix of inhabitants, the frequency of consumers and atmosphere. Secondly is Budapest. Through the inauguration next year of the shopping centre Vaci I situated in the heart of the city, the centre of Budapest will become more attractive for buyers. With less modern commerce integrated on the commercial streets of historic centres, Warsow, Zagreb and Bratislava occupy medium positions. Bucharest is the last. With 700 square metres GLA ( rentable surface) for 1000 inhabitants Prague has the highest density per commercial centres ( malls) out of the Eastern-European capitals analysed. Thus the density of commercial surfaces per inhabitant is in Prague twice higher than in Wien. This evolution is due to the fact that the western European cities offer commercial areas not only as malls but through commercial streets which have developed along the years with a good mix of residents.

While commerce in Western Europe could constantly develop, in Eastern Europe there were two phases of profound change: private commerce which established in the centre was replaced by the communist period of state-run shops with exclusive role of acquisition. This period left gaps, the demands of the consumers going towards an demand based on acquisition and adequate presentation of various products, services and shopping experience. Following increase of private consumption in Eastern Europe, the big retailers and developers of commercial surfaces came to cover these modern needs. As there were no spaces available in the historic centres of the cities – either due to the structures and the long period of trials regarding building restitution – there were commercial areas on the outskirts of the cities or even outside cities. Now there is a slight trend of reurbanisation of commerce.
On the bais of criteria such as residents attractiveness, frequency of consumers, shopping atmosphere in connection to rent level and density of shops, the specialist in location analysis RegioPlan Consulting made the following top of some capital cities in Eastern-Europe:

Most attractive capital cities from the point of view of the consumer
1. Prague
2. Budapest
3. Warsow
4. Zagreb
5. Bratislava
6. Bucharest
Source: RegioPlan Consulting

Thus, Prague and Budapest are placed first. “ The charm of old cities, the cultural offer and private retailers as well as the density of restaurants in the centre of those cities complement one another, inviting to walks and shopping” Bomba-Wilhelmi says. The old centres of Warsaw, Zagreb and Bratislava are placed in the middle as they lack harmonious combination, modern retail offer being weak and less attractive for consumers. Bucharest is placed last due to urban matters – dispersed centre, unsolved problems regarding the rights of property of the buildings in the historic centre without modern retail.

With 700 square metres GLA for 1,000 inhabitants the density of spaces in new commercial centres is in Prague twice higher than in a Western European city such as Wien. But in Bratislava ( 660 sq.m), Budapest ( 520 sq.m) or Warsaw ( 500 sq.m)these values are higher than in Wien ( 350 sq.m). Out of the six capita cities analysed only Bucharest (280 sq.m) and Zagreb ( 340 sq.m) have a density lower than Wien.



Tuesday, June 1, 2010