We shop less in the big city and more in the neighbourhood

That’s what Gertjan Slob, director of research at Locatus, which conducts research into real estate, says. “On the one hand, consumers do more online shopping, but we also continue to go to physical stores,” says Slob.

If stricter rules apply, consumers will quickly shift their spending to online, but as soon as those measures are phased out, they will quickly return to physical stores, a study by ABN Amro also shows.

“But because of corona, consumers prefer not to use public transport, but rather use their own transport, such as the car or bicycle. They prefer to go to places where it is less crowded,” says Slob. And that’s good news for retailers in smaller towns and less good news for the big cities.

Less to physical stores

Measured in numbers, consumers have not yet completely returned to physical stores, ABN Amro’s figures show based on location data from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Haarlem.

Between September 25 and November 6, there were up to 20 percent fewer visitors to those major shopping cities compared to January and February 2020, i.e. before corona.

But we spend more

However, debit card payments have increased. For example, spending in non-essential stores between September 25 and November 6 was even above the average in 2019, i.e. before corona broke out.

More was spent in electronics stores in particular than before corona, but also in furniture stores. Expenditure in clothing stores lagged slightly behind.

‘Towards the store’

The higher expenditure may be due to consumers buying more expensive products, or because they are more focused on shopping. In doing so, they would go to the store to actually buy something they have in mind, rather than spend the day shopping without having in mind exactly what they want to buy.

In addition, consumers can possibly combine different purchases, so that they buy everything they need in one go, according to ABN Amro.

Fewer vacancy rates outside the major cities

Because we prefer not to go to the big cities as much, but to medium-sized places, the vacancy rate in medium-sized cities is falling, says Slob. In the major cities, it is still rising, also because few foreign tourists come. This is especially the case in Amsterdam, he says.

The fact that the shops and the catering industry have had to close at 5 p.m. for the past two weeks does not affect the shops that much, according to Slob. After all, it only saves an hour compared to before those measures. According to him, the hospitality industry is much more affected by it.

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