Renata Kinde-Czyż, Managing Director of Metro Properties Poland. Credit: Metro Properties
Opinion | Ticker

Taking a closer look at Poland

“Once this pandemic is over, our customers will be hungry for all that they were deprived of during the crisis. Brands and landlords need to be prepared to show that online shopping is just a substitute for the great experience you have while visiting shopping centers.”

By Renata Kinde-Czyż

The coronavirus is devastating for the whole world’s economy. The Polish retail industry received a major hit with the shutdown of non-food stores. Its consequences are hard to foresee but it will certainly have an impact on the real estate industry in the future. People’s safety, sustainability, and variety of experience have gained a new dimension that needs to be considered in shopping places and placemaking in the future. 

In Poland, after securing customers and employees, it became clear that no ready-made solutions are available for the different interests of stakeholders in the real estate industry: tenants, landlords, suppliers, and financial institutions. Typical questions, though unanswered, were about lost revenues and uncoveredlabor and other costs. A lose-lose compromise is the only solution to maintain the ecosystem of real estate industry. Damage one part and witness its collapse. This crisis will now be regulated by the government. Everybody is affected by this crisis. Help from the government is indispensable and crucial for their survival. The impact on the economy is hard to foresee. After this, the world will definitely look different.

What will the future hold for the industry? What will be the trends in shopping places and placemaking after the crisis? With economic losses, the objective is more about sustaining than gaining. Constant growth versus sustainable business. Short term versus long term planning. Transaction versus long term relationship mentality. This crisis showed that you must incorporate a crisis scenario in your business model, and be able to sacrifice constant growth principles to solid the foundation of your company.

In the social sphere, some new needs of our customers began to show. People got who stayed home without any opportunity to enjoy commercial spaces and socialize, limited access to experiences and entertainment. Once this pandemic is over, our customers will be hungry for all that they were deprived of during the crisis. Brands and landlords need to be prepared to show that online shopping is just a substitute for the great experience you have while visiting shopping centers. What do we offer that is not available online? Can we bring online to offline? How about virtual reality? Shopping places in virtual reality could be an answer. They could be shadowing the physical ones and still stay open in difficult times. Immersive technologies, digital assistants, and aging populations are all to be explored by industry designers for the more distant future of shopping places. 

What functions are essential for the future inhabitants in times of crises? They need to have sustainable ecosystems, guaranteeing safe environment for their inhabitants, offering entertainment and frictionless communication with the outside world both digitally and physically. They should be energy-independent, water and fresh air supply-prosumers. Summing up, we must do more than just rebuild, and improve whatever we have lost.

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