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Pedestrian zone study: Experts rank Bonn among Germany’s top city centres

Pedestrian zone study : Experts rank Bonn among Germany’s top city centres

Property analysts from the company Bulwiengesa place Bonn at number 13 in a nationwide ranking. In the future they expect to see more grocery shops, drugstores and restaurants in city centres. But this winter, many retailers and chain stores are threatened with economic ruin.

The good news: Bonn city centre, with its 135,000 square metres of retail space and a vacancy rate of only around five percent, is one of the 13 most attractive in Germany - albeit in last place. This was the conclusion reached by Bulwiengesa, a company specialising in property analysis, on behalf of the Bank of Montreal and Ottawa (BMO) in a nationwide analysis of 141 German city centres.

Bonn is listed among the 13 top performers, ahead of cities in the second category such as Aachen, Wiesbaden, Dresden or Bremen. The main factors assessed were the property market, accessibility, supply and demand, the economy and financial strength as well as other data such as the top rents and population development.

However, there is certainly room for improvement: With an overall score of 70.5 out of a possible 100 points, Bonn is far behind the leaders Munich (97.8) and Berlin (95.1), Düsseldorf (87.1) and Cologne (84.9). But the NRW regional centres of Münster (75.3) and Dortmund (73.9) are also ahead of Bonn. The city centre in its conventional design is not only being put under pressure by the current crisis. The migration of specialist stores to greenfield commercial areas, the weakness of large department shops as central reference points - the end of Karstadt in Bonn is symbolic - and the dominance of a few online giants - above all Amazon - are increasingly calling into question the concept of a retail zone in the city centre. This winter a lot of retailers and chain stores are threatened with economic ruin because many customers are staying away even without a second lockdown and those who do come often hold on to their savings.

To discuss the current situation in the city centre and its future, the outgoing mayor Ashok Sridharan has invited experts and stakeholders to the Bonn City Conference next Tuesday afternoon at the Haus der evangelischen Kirche (House of the Protestant Church). Thomas Krüger (HafenCity University Hamburg) will introduce the topic as keynote speaker. Afterwards, the head of Bonn's economic development department, Victoria Appelbe, will shed light on the situation in Bonn. A panel will then hold discussions on issues such as mixed use, security, cleanliness, urban climate and cooperation.

The conference will have to take place without an audience due to increased infection rates, explains the economic development department. Anyone interested can register online and then follow the conference and ask questions or make suggestions in the chat. The link can be found here:


Analysts expect digital offerings in changing rooms

Bulwiengesa provides an outlook on how city centres could change. More technology is coming to the shops: new contactless payment systems such as via smartphone are becoming a matter of course. Shop windows and changing rooms are to be digitally upgraded and could, for example, show possible style combinations or the availability of other sizes when trying on clothes. Combined digital offerings such as delivery services could make shopping trips more efficient and relaxed.

And there will be a wider range of products on offer in smaller retail areas: not only grocery stores and drugstores are increasingly moving to inner-city locations - with more attractive offers such as bistros, regional market stands or product advice. The proportion and range of hospitality services on offer will increase, turning a stroll into an experience. Bad news for the shopping streets in Beuel, Bad Godesberg or Duisdorf: their relevance will continue to decrease, analysts believe.

(Original text: Martin Wein, Translation: Caroline Kusch)