Sales Area Density Stagnant in Europe!

The boom times of sales area expansion in Europe have come to an end. Although individual countries may be developing differently, overall sales area is practically stagnant. Declines have been observed over the past two years especially in countries with already high density (expressed in m² of sales area per resident), though the reasons differ. In Switzerland, unusually strong exchange rate fluctuations have led to dramatic increases in foreign purchases, while in Austria and Germany, populations have been growing faster than sales area. But the same trend may be observed also in countries with low sales area density: in Greece due to the economic crisis, in Ukraine due to the military confrontations.
However, the main reason behind stagnating sales area is the rising share of online, especially in Western and Northern European countries. A growing online sector is reducing brick-and-mortar’s share of turnover, which in turn affects square meter productivity. As a result, retailers are being very conservative with their expansion strategies, and the pipeline for large shopping center projects has long since not been as short as it is now. Nonetheless, there are exceptions: continuously rising sales area density figures may still be found in Poland, Russia, Turkey, and more recently also in Romania, Bulgaria, and Spain.
The countries with the highest sales area densities for retail are Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands, each with more than 1.7 m² per resident, followed by Germany, Norway, and Luxembourg. Whereas in the latter two countries almost no new sales area (e.g. shopping malls or retail parks) is projected to appear, there is (still) a considerable degree of expansion activity going on in Germany, long a favorite among retail investors. However, large increases in population (through EU migration and refugees) are lowering the density figure. The lowest sales area densities in Europe are in Albania and the Republic of Moldova.