After months of confinement, the French have rediscovered the joy of wandering around their city centers, in particular to do their Christmas shopping in local shops. These formerly neglected stores which are nevertheless essential for the dynamism and attractiveness of city centers. By Sadri Fegaier.
City centers are dead! Long live the city centers! Abandoned for a few years for shopping centers and other department stores which are developing on the edges of municipalities, urban centers, thanks to the Covid epidemic – 000, might not have said their last word.
Revitalizing city centers, a national priority
Last July, c ‘is the Ministry of the Economy which itself recognized: “The devitalization of town centers affects medium and small towns in particular. This phenomenon has been accentuated in recent years with peri-urbanization, habitat degradation, impoverishment or even demographic decline, “said Bercy, for whom” revitalizing city centers is a national priority “- which is why the government, since 2017, has launched a series of measures (particularly fiscal) in favor of small urban businesses.
And while a fifth outbreak of coronavirus cases threatens us, it is undeniable that the health measures taken for almost two years have acted as an indicator of the attachment of the French for the proximity trade . To the greatest benefit of the vitality of urban hearts: cloistered at home for weeks, the French, whether to support small traders or to make their purchases in short circuits, have effectively (re) discovered the simple happiness of going meet the traders in their neighborhood.
Local commerce, a vector of territorial development
A specific Xerfi survey, conducted among more than 6 000 business leaders on behalf of the U2P (Union of local businesses) reveals that in the third quarter 2021, food businesses, craftsmen and liberal professions saw their dynamism increase by 4% compared to the same period in 2017. Admittedly, the increase is incomparable to that of the second quarter of this year (+ 000, 5%), but this jump in activity was above all due to the mechanical catching up and the gradual lifting of health restrictions.
This “rediscovered love” of the French for is their small traders likely to save urban centers from desertification? According to the latest Downtown and Shopping Barometer, carried out on the initiative of the Center-Ville en Mouvement association and the CSA Institute, the inhabitants, in any case, have very clearly identified the presence of local shops. and offers of short circuits as a vector for the future development of town centers. They even now expect municipal teams to place this dynamism at the heart of their policy.
And they would have everything interest in listening to them. Since supporting local trade means supporting the vitality of town centers, through and for employment, thanks to this well-known economic mechanism, which means that activity calls for activity. In all regions, the city-business relationship is decisive, not only for economic reasons, but also for the human factor. The philosopher Benoît Heilbrunn recalled in this capacity in June 2017 that the commercial exchange is not only pecuniary, it is a carrier of living together. Local commerce makes it possible to recreate these small links which are essential to social life and as such plays a major role in our personal lives.
The increasing digitization, bringing opportunities for traders and services for consumers, does not call into question this human vision of commerce. We have been witnessing a recomposition of the commercial landscape in recent years, thanks to the digital tool, which it integrates and uses, in order to position the physical store at the center of a digitized multi-channel journey. Articulating physical and digital commerce in the service of the vitality of the territories, this is the challenge of the third retail revolution that we are witnessing.
Tribune written by Mr. Sadri Fegaier, CEO of the Indexia group.