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The global clash of digitalization and the pandemic is shaping the economic development of the 20s of this century. It has also led to profound structural changes of historic proportions. The consequences for retail and its accompanying services are equally dynamic and controversial. Food purchases at brick-and-mortar stores increased by 10 percent or more across Europe in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. At the same time, purchases of consumer durables, such as clothing, home electronics, home accessories, toys, sports, and leisure items increasingly shifted from offline to online retail.

During the pandemic, Kaufland’s more than 1,350 large supermarkets established themselves as reliable and footfall-generating food anchors in the European shopping plaza landscape. In an in-depth interview with ACROSS, Dr. Angelus Bernreuther, Head of Institutional Investor Relationship Management and Real Estate at Kaufland, describes the success strategies that lead to a win-win alliance between shopping places and their anchor tenant Kaufland:

How the placemaking industry emerges stronger from the pandemic. Our 10 strategies for future-proof vibrant places.

From login processes and registrations to password confirmations and SMS codes, to delivery men ringing doorbells in vain, and more. The reality of online shopping has its pitfalls.

“Research by CNCC in 2019 showed that France applied 90 different taxes on brick-and-mortal retail, while e-tailers, which represented about 10% of the total market at the time, paid virtually no taxes at all.”

There are significant and surprising differences in the affinity for online shopping – even across the individual countries. For example, one might expect such an affinity to be higher in rural areas, but the opposite is the case: In densely populated urban regions, it is approximately 15% to 20% higher than the national average.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought massive changes to the entire retail real estate and placemaking industry. A lot of negative developments, but also a number of opportunities and possibilities for the future. We asked the following industry experts to share their opinion on the matter.

Europe’s food retailers are being put to the test by the eco- nomic consequences of the natural disaster Covid-19. This is a very special kind of weather situation. While non-food retailers and the food service industry are in sheer despair in the face of the calm caused by government-imposed lockdowns, the “system-relevant” food retail sector has been confronted with a veritable storm tide since the sec- ond quarter of 2020.

Industry leaders told us about the sales impact Corona had on their business in 2020. They also explain what fundamental changes in location, sales, and marketing strategy they are planning for 2021/2022 in response to the widespread economic impact of the pandemic.

“The challenge in 2021 is to get back to business at a full speed, understanding that unemployment has gone up considerably in some countries, that the power spend of our customers might have suffered and that, disappointingly but not surprisingly, too many governments in this world do not seem to have control over the pandemic situation.”

Empty food courts, declining sales figures, stricter hygiene regulations, and shortened opening hours have created problems for gastronomy operators within shopping centers. As a result, alternative interim concepts are in high demand.

The new, close relationship with customers. These are the strategies that retailers and operators apply to prepare for life after the crisis.

“It will be important for retailers – particularly smaller retailers that do not have their own online platforms – to be connected to a larger, joint partnership-oriented platform and to utilize their own stores as warehouses as well to make deliveries to buyers from the stores.”

The industry’s magic word that is supposed to upgrade locations and make them future-proof.

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