This is what the city center of the future will look like

The question of whether retail and inner cities – as we know them – will survive in the future has been around for a long time. E-commerce continues to grow, partly due to the impact of the Corona crisis. Since the beginning of the pandemic, inner cities and shopping malls have had to lose around 70% of their sales on average. This figure comes from the current consumer study on e-commerce by bevh (Federal Association of E-Commerce and Mail Order e.V.). What initially sounds like a horror scenario may well turn out to be a positive development for cities.

Combine shopping with experiences

The bevh predicts an increased chance for small, local retailers to hold their own against the competition. Unlike now, the sales distribution will be broader and will no longer only pay to the central, large players. One reason is certainly that open source and system software are becoming cheaper and cheaper and are therefore also accessible to small dealers. In this way, they too can set up web shops more quickly, link them to the offerings in stationary retail and become more attractive to buyers. After all, consumers are still happy to be inspired and advised locally - but they often buy online, after further research and with delivery directly to their home. Conclusion: Those who are not present online will buy less or not at all in the future.

With well thought-out omnichannel concepts, retailers can reach their customers via a variety of channels so as not to lose them to the big players of the online world. New, modern ideas are also attracting people back to the inner cities. A study by JLL shows that buyers are no longer just concerned with pure consumption - after all, they can also do this from home. What really draws them to the city center is the combination of shopping with restaurant visits or everyday purchases and errands, social encounters or real experiences.


The 15 minute city

Retail alone cannot revitalize inner cities. What it takes are city planners who give new impetus. The concept of the 15-minute city comes from Prof. Carlos Moreno from the Sorbonne in Paris, head of the Institute ETI - Entrepreneuriat, Territoire, Innovation, who recognized a connection between the geographical environment and entrepreneurial activity. The idea of ​​the city of short distances combines space for living and working with innovative shopping structures and attractive cultural and leisure activities. All everyday routes - whether to the supermarket, the doctor's surgery, the train station, a boutique, the hairdresser, the university or the workplace - can be covered in less than 15 minutes on foot or with sustainable means of transport such as public transport or bicycles will.

Inner cities as they are known today are being fundamentally changed. New structures distribute all stations of everyday life evenly across the city and make the central area more attractive again with cultural offerings, small shops and residential areas. Numerous, smaller districts are emerging - the compact, cute shopping street of the past is making a comeback. Some metropolises such as Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna and Paris are already putting the concept into practice. But many medium-sized towns will also follow suit, improve the quality of work and life locally and thus record significant growth in the next few years.

A result of this concept could be more local value chains. This is the only way to fully meet the supply requirement within 15 minutes. If the desired product is not available at the moment, the goods can be ordered online in the neighboring district and picked up or delivered in the shortest possible time. These local opportunities provide strong competition for large, international providers. Last but not least, because the awareness of sustainability among the population is continuously increasing and long supply chains or unnecessary packaging material are relevant topics in this regard.



One thing is clear: inner cities will develop and restructure in exciting new ways. The increased focus on the quality of life of residents can already be observed, especially in Europe, and will become even more established in the future. The charm that the inner cities have lost is to be regained.

ROQQIO editorial staff

ROQQIO editorial staff

This article was created by the ROQQIO editorial team. PR and marketing experts write here on topics related to trends, technologies and developments in retail and retail marketing.

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