Something has changed. Without a doubt. Christmas business is no longer as easy for the stationary trade as it used to be. This is particularly noticeable in medium-sized and smaller centers such as kitzingen, volkach and wiesentheid. Only one thing helps: cohesion.
Petra ziegler is the district chairwoman of the bavarian trade association (HBE). And she is an independent businesswoman in volkach. But not for long. "I’m in a clearance sale at the moment," she explains. At the end of the year, it will close its women’s fashion store on the main street. In march, a new management will take over, petra ziegler will then work as a salaried employee. "It’s not easy to be self-reliant," she says. You always have to come up with something new to attract customers. People in their mid-40s also like to get involved. "They still appreciate social contacts and advice," says ziegler. But the younger customers? "They probably only shop on the internet."
The online market is growing
"I don’t see it so clearly," disagrees volker wedde, district manager of the HBE. A large proportion of people select – shop both online and brick-and-mortar. In a survey conducted by the federal association in cooperation with the institute for retail research, almost twelve million people between the ages of 14 and 29 were counted as online shoppers last year – and only 6.7 million of those over 60. However, their share has risen by 44 percent in the space of a year.
Wedde, however, urges caution in view of such surveys. The term "online shopper" does not mean that these people shop exclusively on the internet. So people were also classified as "online shoppers" if they were online only once a month order. One thing is undisputed, however: the online market is growing – at 10.5 percent last year, more strongly than expected. A saturation limit is not in sight.
"Too many discount campaigns"
This is another reason why the christmas business is "absolutely highly relevant" for the stationary trade in lower franconia, emphasizes wedde. But he also says: "the importance of sales has declined somewhat."He describes the advertising-intensive discount campaigns right before the start of the actual christmas shopping season as rather unfortunate. However, the retailers hardly had a chance to defend themselves against developments such as black friday. In principle, there are far too many discount campaigns for wedde’s taste in the course of a calendar year. This also affects the actual christmas business, which is being pushed back further and further. It wasn’t until the last two weeks before christmas eve that people really started to storm the stores. Unless cities and communities were already advertising special events beforehand.
In kitzingen, the city marketing association has concentrated its efforts on one christmas market weekend. From 14. Up to 16. December, not only will a number of exhibitors be offering their wares in the town hall basement, in the town hall hall hall, on the partner city square and in the IN:hof as well as in the friedrich bernbeck school. There will also be various musical and cultural offerings. "We naturally hope that the guests will then also go shopping," explains chairman frank gimperlein, who meets every two months with representatives of the retailers and has, among other things, developed voucher campaigns to boost the christmas business.
In principle, kitzingen is well positioned in stationary retail, says gimperlein. "But the very young people are naturally more attracted to the internet or to nurnberg or wurzburg."According to him, the shopping streets of the city have become almost interchangeable in their appearance. "There’s just one big chain store after the other."
Medium-sized centers like kitzingen could score points with their individuality. Services such as intensive advice or additional service offers still had their value and were recognized by the customers. However, in order to increase its attractiveness, the company has to keep its eye on the ball. Gimperlein has a number of projects in mind that could further strengthen kitzingen as a retail location. At the top of his wish list are a vinotheque, an organic store that focuses on marketing products from the region, and a restaurant with a typical french touch.
He would also like to develop joint strategies to attract more customers to the city center. For example, he has a kind of "super saturday" in mind – with free parking, coffee vouchers that are given out in the shops if sales are high enough, and live music on the market square. "But everyone had to pull together," he says. Of course, a super saturday on which only two stores were open was not very well received.
So-called "pop-up stores" are also conceivable for him."Business founders could try out their new ideas for a certain period of time and see if they would be accepted by the customers without taking too much risk – preferably in stores that have been empty for a long time. The vacancies are naturally also a thorn in the STMV managing director’s side. However, he appeals to the customers for understanding. "As a rule, that’s up to the owners," reminds gimperlein. Many people do not even live in kitzingen and show no great interest in renting the flat. "Our hands are also tied here."
Petra ziegler in volkach sees it similarly. Little by little shops had closed there. Men’s clothing and household goods were no longer available, and the former perfumery had been vacant for a year and a half. "In the meantime, there is a lack of diversity in the village," she regrets, and is sure: if even more shops are gone, the clamor will be rough. Especially in the pre-christmas season.
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