We had an excellent year last year. With Covid-19 finally behind us, we are clearly seeing rising retail sales in the attractive shopping streets in our most important cities. Footfall increased substantially, with additional spending in fashion, shoes, accessories and luxury items in particular. And it is precisely these rental segments that we focus on; around 70% of our properties is let to this type of tenants. We also find e-commerce businesses now opening experience shops in city centre locations. In addition, the share of food & beverage concepts is increasing. This mix is very popular with consumers. Online retail and physical shop spending is merging seamlessly. There is a real revival of the high streets in Belgium. The great thing is that city centre developments like gaming or urban fitness are also finding their way to upper floors of retail properties. These too are benefiting from the renewed attractiveness of city centres,’ Sven stated.
Sven Bosman: ‘During the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism was under pressure, but now we see it picking up again. Especially now that China is easing its Covid restrictions, we are expecting additional influx. Tourists from Europe, especially from the Netherlands, but also France and Germany, already showed a strong increase in 2022. And tourists make up a major share of visitors to the historic city centres of Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent. For example, as a Unesco World Heritage city, Bruges is more popular than ever as a tourist destination. In short, expectations for 2023 are certainly positive. Additionally, municipalities are endeavouring to make city centres even more attractive, not only by demarcating core shopping areas better, but also by curbing inner-city traffic flows. And the proximity of major employers and universities yields additional footfall as well.’