The impact of the pandemic on our high streets and urban retail has been tremendous. Some of us in Placemaking Europe have shared best practices for supporting the retail businesses during this time.
We want to build off of that sharing to create a Placemaking Europe working group focused on our high streets, urban retail and sustainable socio-economic regeneration interventions. In the short-term, the idea would be to continue exchanging ideas and best practices around supporting retail and safely activating the public space in retail districts during the pandemic. In the medium and long-term, the idea of the group would be to reimagine the mix of retail in these districts and in the public space associated with them, with some futures thinking and scenario planning. We would also like to brainstorm a project for which we could jointly pursue funding and put our ideas into practice across multiple cities.
Our kick-off meeting will be on Thursday, March 11th at 3:00pm.
Join us here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85835954509
The pandemic has permanently damaged many urban retail districts. Temporary regulations have caused many businesses to close. Fears of the virus and social distancing rules have reduced footfall and activity in the businesses that remain open. And increased online shopping has further eroded revenue for these businesses.
Some businesses have adapted better than others, and have even used the crisis to finally move their business more online. Others have adapted to doing deliveries and take-out orders. But many businesses have either closed or are barely holding on.
These challenges have also raised the question of what we want our retail districts to look like in the future when the pandemic is over. Do we just want to try to get back to where we were before or should we forge a new path? Even before the pandemic, online retailers were taking significant market share away from brick-and-mortar shops, forcing many to close. So where should local administrations and private investment focus their resources in rebuilding our retail districts? Can district management structures help more businesses combine online sales with their brick-and-mortar operations? Can our retail districts become places not only for consuming, but also for other activities that provide different benefits and experiences to communities? Could they incorporate more space for civic activity, artists, workforce training for youth and marginalized groups, and even production of some form?
To help urban retail districts survive the short-term loss of footfall, business activity, and stores as a result of the pandemic. In the medium term, to build these districts back better, with new organizational structures and a new mix of activities that balance consumption with production and civic activity.