Peter Altmaier wants to prevent store deaths – and save inner cities in the pandemic

Smaller shops in expensive inner-city locations are particularly affected by the corona crisis. To save them, the Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier now comprehensive steps are required. “We have to develop concepts for revitalizing inner cities,” said the CDU politician. “We want to prevent business in the city centers from dying.” In doing so, he primarily relies on digitization to strengthen retailers and make shopping and lingering more attractive for customers in city centers.

He thinks it is important, for example, to develop district concepts using digital offerings, which, for example, on weekends led to people perceiving the city as an “experience space”. That would also open up the Gastronomy New opportunities. City researcher Thomas Krüger also calls to further develop the dying centers.

With regard to demands to issue consumer vouchers, however, Altmaier said: “Now it is less important to distribute new money and more to make the city centers more attractive.” Lower VAT up to the end of the year, he observed, and contributed to the fact that, above all, investments in higher-value consumer goods would be preferred.

Altmaier wants to invite those involved to talk

A lot more business has been done online since the corona pandemic. The world’s largest internet retailer Amazon made a profit increase in the corona pandemic by more than 40 percent. Altmaier also wants smaller businesses to become more involved in the increasing online trade: “We have to help business owners in city centers to digitize their customer relationships in such a way that it also benefits fashion stores and shoe stores,” he said. “For example, if a customer wants to order a brand shirt online, they shouldn’t necessarily have to do so from the manufacturer, but should be able to buy online at the same price from the retailer of their choice.”

Altmaier announced that he would invite those involved to a table at the beginning of September “to talk about the economic opportunities of digitization for inner cities, for retailers, for the catering trade”. The federal government must be ready to “support the necessary measures even more intensively with local authorities and the states”.

The president of the HDE trade association, Josef Sanktjohanser, had complained that the corona crisis would probably result in a loss of sales of 40 billion euros for retailers apart from the food trade. This could cost the existence of 50,000 locations in Germany: “If the first wave of the pandemic has such dramatic consequences in trade, I don’t want to imagine a second one,” he said.

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