The future of retail in city-centres. Challenges, good practices and recommendations for small retailers in city-centres, including small centres in rural areas

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The future of retail in city-centres

Exchange of best practices, sufficient funding, minimisation of red tape – what is needed to revitalise and modernise small retailers, was discussed at the EESC's SME, Crafts and Family Business Category meeting. Business associations and a representative of the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (European Commission) met with members of the EESC's SME category on 26 February. The aim of the discussion was to examine the outcomes of the study on The future of retail in city-centres and the priorities of European SMEs in retail.

The study The future of retail in city-centres. Challenges, good practices and recommendations for small retailers in city-centres, including small centres in rural areas (Panteia, 2019) identifies challenges and trends for small retailers and showcases good practices. Through a thorough analysis of 5 "best practices" the authors from the research group Panteia arrived at the following recommendations to revitalize small-scale retail:

  • Providing accessible and concise digital learning tools
  • Highlighting the importance of public-private partnerships
  • Rethinking framework conditions and the environment
  • Establishing partnerships among retailers
  • Supporting retailers in setting up shared digital sales platforms with delivery services
  • Reducing the complexity of regulations, and designing certain regulations to actively support and help small retailers
  • Small retailers should realize their strengths and capitalize on changing consumer preferences and retails trends

Based on these findings, the participants of the discussion stated their priorities for European SMEs in retail. Speakers from business associations (Eurochambres, EuroCommerce, Euro Coop, Independent Retail Europe, SMEunited, UNIZO) agreed on the following recommendations to modernize small-scale retail:

  • Funding is needed that offers suitable options for small retailers.
  • Concepts should be established together with local stakeholders. These concepts need to have a broad vision and include various topics, such as mobility.
  • Legislation is needed that does not limit the competitiveness of small retailers and that guarantees the diversity of the retail landscape. A level playing field has to protect small retailers against international competition and big enterprises.
  • Exchange of best practices has to be fostered, for example through a European digital platform.
  • Minimisation of red tape is needed to spare the resources of small retailers.

The study The future of retail in city-centres. Challenges, good practices and recommendations for small retailers in city-centres, including small centres in rural areas was prepared by Panteia in 2019. You can find it here: https://europa.eu/!UW49Dt