European retailers play an important role in keeping city and town centres attractive places for shoppers and residents, according to representative body EuroCommerce.
Speaking today at the International City Retail Experience 2018 in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren described the major trends affecting Europe’s cities and towns, adding that the wellbeing of city centres and the retail industry are "very closely linked".
"Changing consumer behaviour, ageing consumers and digital technology are making retailers work to reinvent themselves," said Verschueren.
"This presents real challenges to the smaller shops which often make up a large part of the city centre landscape. Thriving shops keep city and town centres attractive places for citizens to visit and for retailers and other to do business in. This can only happen by local authorities and business working together, and helping smaller shops extend and modernise their business by going online.”
Verschueren noted that this is an important issue, as the retail and wholesale sector makes "a massive contribution" to local economies, and to the EU economy as a whole.
"It is the largest private sector employer, and a highly productive and adaptable sector," he said.
"Small retailers and wholesalers can make a real difference in driving innovation to meet ever-changing consumer demand, and are an essential part of the city landscape, bringing variety, colour and life to the centre of towns."
Looking to the future, he added that retailers need support in going digital and bringing their business online to remain competitive.
"We need cities and regions to work together with all stakeholders to draw up forward-looking plans to keep people coming into town and shop, eat and seek entertainment," Verschueren said.
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.