In the K in Lautern shopping center, every fifth store is currently empty. According to the head of the center, there are many reasons for this – there is great hope for improvement.
“We have space for 100 stores in our shopping center,” says the manager of the “K in Lautern” mall, Sabine Friedrich. “20 stores are currently vacant.” That’s too many vacancies in the long run, says Friedrich. “If we manage to leave only 3 or 4 stores in the coming years, it would be very good for the Mall in Kaiserslautern.”
But at the moment the shopping center is still a long way off. The corona pandemic in particular has meant that more and more tenants have had to go out of business in “K in Lautern” in the last two to three years, says Sabine Friedrich.
Expert: Corona affects shopping centers in particular
“20 percent is way too much,” agrees Andreas Kaapke, a trade expert at the Stuttgart State University Co-operative University. Kaapke also assumes that the crown pandemic is primarily responsible for the high vacancy rate. “This is not only a problem in Kaiserslautern. Shopping centers in particular have been hit hard by the pandemic, ”says Andreas Kaapke. “People preferred to go to individual shops in the pedestrianized area. There, they could look into the stores and see how many customers were there and whether they were complying with the anti-corona protection measures. “
According to Professor Kaapke, the aim must be to reduce the vacancy rate in ‘K in Lautern’ to a maximum of ten percent. This is normal value. “With a vacancy rate of around ten percent, the shopping center in Kaiserslautern would have enough leeway to offer potential tenants attractive retail space.”
There is a shortage of materials and craftsmen
‘K in Lautern’ center manager, Sabine Friedrich, gives other reasons for the high vacancy rate: The companies responsible for extending the stores are short of materials and staff, says the center manager. “We could directly rent at least two additional sales areas if we could find a company that would expand the stores accordingly,” says Friedrich. “For the reasons mentioned, the hands of the companies are now tied.”
Friedrich hopes that will change soon. “If we are able to adequately expand our sales areas, we will be able to reduce vacancy quickly,” says Sabine Friedrich. “We already have a lot of restaurateurs and start-ups who would like to come to the mall.”
Expert: Less shopping in shopping malls in the future
Trade expert Drik Funck from the University of Economics and the Environment Nürtingen-Geislingen is rather skeptical. It assumes that in the future trade will tend to decline – especially in the textile industry, which is one of the most important tenants in shopping centers.
“ECE, a subsidiary of the Otto Group and a leading European operator of shopping centers, expects that the share of retail sales in existing space will decrease by up to 15 percent. I agree with that, ”says Dirk Funck. According to a retail trade expert, the decline is even greater. “Therefore, it is necessary to transform shopping centers, which, depending on the location, includes more services, housing, work, entertainment and tourist offers, up to hotels.”
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Friedrich: Many visitors to “K in Lautern”
Nevertheless: the manager of the “K in Lautern” center, Sabine Friedrich, is optimistic that the high vacancy rate will end soon. “Our shopping center is visited by an average of around 22,500 people every day. I think this is an impressive number and a good argument for attracting new tenants. Our shopping center in Kaiserslautern is still very attractive, ”says Friedrich.