A group of German associations has called for 'creative cooperation' between players in inner-city trade to counter the slump in business due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from HDE (Handelsverband Deutschland).
The associations include Bundesstiftung Baukultur (The Federal Foundation for Building Culture), the Deutsche Verband für Wohnungswesen, Städtebau und Raumordnung e.V. (DV) (German Association for Housing, Urban Development and Spatial Planning), the Handelsverband Deutschland (German Trade Association) und urbanicom.
Retailers in German city centres are facing an unprecedented crisis as the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a drastic decline in sales, store closings, and consumers shifting to online retail.
The associations have also urged the federal government to grant a comprehensive rescue package for stabilising inner-city trade.
This includes a special annual urban development programme worth €500 million as well as a low-threshold culture fund for members of the creative industry.
'New Multifunctional Uses'
Michael Groschek, former minister of state and president of the DV, commented, “Only if trade and gastronomy, real estate owners, social and educational institutions, urban production and crafts as well as creative and cultural workers work together, can new multifunctional uses and business ideas be created that will attract people back to the centres.”
In addition to cooperation, networking, innovative ideas and consistent digitisation, the associations' six-point plan also includes the demand for a binding demarcation of the centres under planning law, to enable better handling of retail vacancies, the HDE report added.
Reiner Nagel, chairman of the Board of the Bundesstiftung Baukultur, added, “Our city centres must once again become feel-good locations with quality of stay and attractive points of attraction.
“The building culture of our centres and public spaces shape us all and is decisive for cities and communities worth living in.”
HDE CEO, Stefan Genth, believes that while the economic stimulus package and reduction in VAT have brought relief, it has not been able to prevent the closure of many businesses.
"If we want to prevent the desertification and thus the loss of identity of our inner cities, we urgently need a new integrated approach. All those involved - federal, state and local authorities and the affected economic sectors - must pull together,” he explained.