Shop vacancies could lead to some shopping streets disappearing

Typical architecture in Amsterdam, NetherlandsEconomic affairs minister Henk Kamp is introducing a series of measures designed to counter the rising number of shop vacancies.

He plans to bring in shop rents based on property market prices rather than on historic prices as is presently the case, and to make it easier for shop owners to convert their business into a cafe or restaurant, news agency ANP reports.

So far 50 councils have agreed to look at what they can do to counteract shop vacancies. This includes the possibility of allowing some shopping streets to disappear altogether and concentrating investment in others. There will also be training for shop staff on how to combine physical selling with that done by customers online.

Around 7.5% of shops are standing empty and major chains such as V&D, Hema, Manfield, Dolcis, Mexx and Halfords are in financial difficulty, the NRC reports.

Customer behaviour

Retail expert Cor Molenaar told the paper last month the problem is that customers no longer fit into the current structure. ‘They want to shop when it suits them,’ he said. ‘They do not want to spend goodness knows how much on parking. They think: why are shops closed on Saturday evening but open on Monday when there are no customers.’

The retail trade, property owners and councils have now agreed to tackle the problem, and retail trade union Pensioenfonds Detailhandel is to invest €40m in a fund for loans to shop keepers.

Around 775,000 people work in retail. The sector has 110,000 companies which bring in a total of €93bn a year. Turnover rose slightly in 2014 by 0.5%.

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation