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Retailing - the top locations

Mechelen is rising in appreciation. Image: visit Mechelen
Mechelen is rising in appreciation. Image: visit Mechelen

Real estate advisor CBRE has taken its annual look at the state of the retail market in Belgium. One of the categories it investigated was the categorisation of the various cities of the country.
As was the case to last year, Brussels remains the best performing location in Belgium for 32% of respondents across all sectors. For the food & restaurants segment, the result is even more pronounced with 64% choosing Brussels.

Second place goes to Antwerp for the third consecutive year. This is mainly due to the fact that almost none of the food & restaurant respondents have their best performing shops in Antwerp as opposed to Brussels. For the fashion & personal care segment, Brussels and Antwerp account each for 20%.

In terms of the best retail destination, more than half of the respondents choose Antwerp in 2018. Brussels comes second with 27% followed by Ghent. When it comes to shopping centres, Wijnegem is the favourite location for 46% of the respondents. Waasland and Woluwe shopping centre come, respectively, second
and third with 25% and 15%.

CBRE also looked at the favourite cities in terms of retail planning and policies. Among smaller cities, Mechelen is the favourite city for retail planning and urban policies for more than 40% of the respondents. Retailers appear to appreciate Mechelen’s evolution over the years, making its city centre increasingly pleasant and shopper friendly without sacrificing accessibility or parking. For larger cities, Antwerp is the selected city for more than one retailer out of five has been the case for several years. Ghent comes second followed by Brussels.

Changing habits

All of this is within a context of fundamental changes in shopping habits. CBRE says that retailers need to adapt, differentiate and focus on providing greater consumer experience. Millennials are spending more on experiences rather than on material things and purchases are increasingly moving online. The connection between positive in-store experience and online sales remains
Having physical stores and an online presence that supplement each other is
essential, particularly now that over 18% of retail sales activity in Belgium is taking place online and developing at a rapid pace. In 2017, e-commerce was worth more than €10 billion over 87 million purchases. E-commerce
volume has been increasing at a rate of almost 10% over the past three years and is expected to finally be calculated to be worth €11 billion in 2018.
Retailers are responding to this change by developing an omni-channel platform where online, in-store, and mobile shopping are enjoyed through a cohesive experience.
Tim Harrup

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