The image of German city centers is changing. More and more fashion stores have to give up because of online competition and the effects of the corona crisis. Instead, completely different stores are now pushing into the shopping streets: Aldi and Lidl. “Wherever it works from the rental price level, the discounters try to get into the absolute prime locations,” said Dirk Wichner, Head of Retail Letting Germany at the international brokerage group JLL. There is a tough competition for the best locations.
For a long time the shopping streets were practically taboo for the discounters because the rents there were too high. “That has changed fundamentally since more and more textile retailers had to give up,” emphasized Wichner.
Stuttgart Koenigsstrasse, Munich Isartor
The discounters make no secret of their plans. Aldi Nord is realizing “more and more markets in direct inner-city locations, shopping centers and pedestrian zones at central urban hubs,” reported a company spokesman. Aldi Süd emphasized that the company was ready to »close gaps in the inner cities«. In cooperation with Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof alone, the discounter has already realized seven inner-city branches. In Düsseldorf, the discounter also has two shops in the pedestrian zone and in Stuttgart it will soon be found on Königsstraße.
And arch-rival Lidl leaves no doubt about its interest in the city, for example with shops on Carlsplatz in Düsseldorf or the Isartor in Munich. “We deal intensively with high street locations at junctions with public transport connections,” said Lidl real estate manager Marek Franz of the “Lebensmittel Zeitung”.
Target group commuters
The target group of the new city shops are not only local residents but also commuters who want to do their daily shopping quickly on the way home. The high footfall made the shops in the city centers attractive, Wichner reported. »There’s a tough competition between the discounters for the best locations. The fight is hard. ”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that success is guaranteed. “That is not necessarily a sure-fire success,” warned trade expert Marco Atzberger from the Cologne trade research institute EHI. »The classic shops have large parking spaces in front of the door for a reason. Customers should make the largest possible purchase and then comfortably transport it home. «That is not possible in a pedestrian zone and will affect the size of the shop. “These are experiments,” said Atzberger, looking at the city shops.
Discount stores lost to supermarkets in the corona crisis
The fact that discounters are ready to dare the “pedestrian zone experiment” despite the associated risks is not only due to the lower rents in the city centers. The city centers are also the last blank spots on their map of Germany for discounters. And the pressure on discounters is great to open up new growth opportunities.
Because the corona crisis brought all food retailers significant sales increases. But the big supermarket chains fared significantly better than their cheap competition. According to data from the Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK), Edeka, Rewe and Co. achieved a sales increase of 16.5 percent in the first nine months of this year, while Aldi, Lidl and Co. achieved growth of “only” 9, 2 percent had to be satisfied.
And other retailers are also in the process of venturing into the inner cities that have so far been dominated by fashion retail. Real estate expert Atzberger reported: »Not only the discounters are flirting with new locations in prime locations in the inner cities. Hardware stores and furniture retailers like Ikea are also experimenting with it. ”