The German Trade Association (HDE), together with the Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW) e. V. publishes a statement on how inner cities can be made more attractive as places of encounter and an important economic factor.
According to the three-page position paper, a package of measures consisting of tax relief for investments, targeted subsidies and a corresponding digital infrastructure as well as a dialogue with politicians is required.
Both HDE and BVDW are convinced that the technological development at the point of sale and the active use of digital means will contribute to the revitalization of German city centers and will be able to cope with the consequences of the pandemic-related standstill.
“We have to stop seeing online retail and stationary retail as competitors. Rather, we can strengthen stationary retail by making it digital and dovetailing online and offline shopping,” explains Marco Junk, Managing Director of the BVDW.
The biggest challenge for brick-and-mortar retail is still the sharp decline in shopping frequency. This decrease in frequency was of course massively accelerated and intensified by the measures to contain the pandemic. “As a result of the Corona crisis, especially in the clothing sector, the retail trade as the core sector of vital inner cities is facing bankruptcy in many cases. At the end of the crisis, up to 50,000 stores could have disappeared from the market. This has an impact on entire inner cities”, explains Stephan Tromp, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of HDE.
As a result, it can be foreseen that a number of retail companies will not survive the crisis. According to the associations, the dynamics of these changes in the quality of supply therefore require rapid and coordinated action by all inner-city actors.
HDE and BVDW are of the opinion that a sensible penetration of technological innovations relieves retailers, offers customers a shopping experience and makes the city center more attractive. However, around 60 percent of retail companies in Germany are currently unable to invest in their future due to the economic effects of the pandemic and the corona measures.
That is why one calls for measures that enable investments in innovations and basic digital equipment such as cash register systems, merchandise management systems and systems for mapping the local and stationary availability of goods.
According to the associations, these could be tax breaks, depreciation or subsidies that strengthen local trade and Germany as an up-and-coming technology location.
“So that medium-sized businesses in our inner cities don’t lose touch through this crisis through no fault of their own, a state funding program, networking of the affected inner-city players and functioning infrastructure are needed. Otherwise, deserted city centers are threatened,” continues Tromp.
In addition, pioneers, pilot projects and the necessary infrastructure are needed to enable local and digital to grow together and to enable crisis management.
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