Retail Goes, Buildings Stay

Authors: Herman Kok*, Meyer Bergman
Topics: Business Geography, Urban Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: Retail Repurposing, Real Estate, Cities, Redevelopment, Investment
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 5
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The retail land scape in many western markets is changing rapidly because of a shift to online and multi-channel sales formats, lower profit margins in the retail sector, and changing income distributions. The department store is among the most affected sectors by the ongoing transformation. Department store chains reduce their store networks and quite a few went into administration and seized to exist. In Europe, department stores tend to occupy prominent tailor made mostly multi-level buildings on prime inner-city locations. With department stores leaving, the buildings stay in the urban landscape. This paper analyses shifts in functional use in department store buildings following the closure of the department store. Prime focus is on the case of the V&D department store chain in the Netherlands and the Bhs department store chains the UK, both examples of department store chains with went bankrupt and left a vacant portfolio of buildings behind. Were the buildings kept in place and repurposed, or were the buildings demolished and replaced by something else? In what degree was a retail function maintained or was there a shift to mix-use or a complete new set of functions. This paper fits in the growing discussion on the need of repurposing retail locations and assets, and the growing demand for research into functional dynamics of retail real estate.

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