Retail representative group EuroCommerce has said that a good mix of shops, offering a wide variety of goods and services, is central to keeping town centres good places to visit and enjoy.
The retail representative body organised a conference, entitled 'Retail & wholesale – Innovating to keep towns vibrant', where it discussed the effect shops struggling to survive in a rapidly changing retail landscape has on towns.
The conference came in response to the European Commission releasing its communication A retail sector fit for the 21st century. EuroCommerce said it welcomes the report’s recommendations set out in the report on removing unnecessary or disproportionate barriers to retail and wholesale.
Over-regulating & Unnecessary Barriers
EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren said, “Retail and wholesale businesses make up a vital part of the local social and economic fabric of our towns, but many have been forced to close.
“The Commission’s recent communication on retail states clearly that over-regulating our sector hampers competition, reduces consumer choice and increases costs. Addressing unnecessary barriers to doing business needs to be part of an all-embracing approach with local authorities. All stakeholders need to work together to revitalise town centres, looking at the basic infrastructure of the town and the impact of regulation.”
EuroCommerce believes that the sector faces increasing local, national and EU rules, adding costs and making it difficult to do business, and disproportionate tax burdens which undermine competitiveness within the retail sector.
It added that high vacancy rates in retail property, up to 25% in some towns, create a vicious circle of decline, making towns and city centres unattractive to consumers. In addition, a growing number of restraints on access and mobility to towns and city centres deter people from shopping in town centres.
Potential To Perform Better
Tomasz Husak, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Bieńkowska, said, “Retail is one of the biggest sectors in Europe. Over 3.6 million companies provide 9% of EU jobs. However, the sector has been lagging behind in productivity in comparison with other business sectors.
“With the boom of multi-channel distribution, retail has the potential to perform better. Member States have a key role to play in addressing the challenges this sector faces on a local level, and need to use smart tools to create the business-friendly environment which will help create local growth and jobs.
“The Commission’s recent communication guides public authorities on how to best apply the EU rules. It also sets out best practices regarding retail establishment and daily operations which could be considered by Member States in their reforms towards a more competitive retail sector.”
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Aidan O'Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.