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The Shopping Centre Industry in Italy: A New Perspective

Italian retail experienced a hugely challenging year but the response from retailers and landlords has laid the foundations for growth, according to a new report by the industry body: The Shopping Centre Industry: A New Perspective, CNCC.

The report notes that for the Italian retail industry and retail real estate market, last year was particularly challenging since it caused serious harm and difficulties to owners and individual operators, brought to their knees by protracted, unsustainable economics.

The slump in consumption, caused by a general drop in household confidence which led to an overall fall in sales, restrictions imposed by Governments to limit the spread of the pandemic, and insufficient economic assistance, all caused a significant decrease in the industry turnover by approximately 30% on an annual basis, based on the CNCC Observatory’s sample. That figure rises to 35% if considering the whole stock of retail schemes (1,267 organised retail facilities, source Nomisma).

However, for the Italian retail and property industries, last year also represented a time of changes, in terms of organisation of spaces and purchasing trends by customers, which CNCC believes have laid the foundations for building higher resilience within the shopping centre model. It says that the industry has proved to be one of the most dynamic and innovative in responding to Covid-19, by promptly adjusting to safety regulations to deal with the pandemic and by offering concrete help to communities through organising vaccination hubs within facilities.

Many Italian shopping centres have accelerated transformation processes that were already underway in order to avoid losing market shares, using technology to improve the customers’ experience and leveraging the online offer, which has become increasingly integrated in the retailers’ business and is complementary to traditional marketplaces. Another change is connected to a stronger partnership between owners and retailers.

CNCC believes that the pandemic has confirmed that the priority for companies, investors and countries is to simultaneously achieve sustainable development and financial growth goals and argues that that the exceptional nature of this shock is a “reason to be optimistic about a quick rebound in consumption” and a return of customers once the general situation has improved.


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