This week, a British delegation is visiting the Belgian city of Roeselare, to witness first hand several innovative ideas to promote shopping. They consider Roeselare to be the "ideal example of an average-sized city with a flourishing city center."
An increasing number of average-sized cities are under huge pressure in the current retail landscape, partially because of increased online sales. Roeselare bucks that trend quite tremendously: in its best weeks, more than 100,000 shoppers visit the city and 28 new stores opened their doors in the past year alone.
The city emphasizes new technology for local retailers: it introduced the Citie app late last year and shoppers can actually use hands-free shopping. In 2017, it will offer shoppers childcare and parking spots with half an hour of free parking.
"Roeselare as an example"
“I have never seen a city apply the scientific retail recommendations as well as Roeselare does. Every city in the United Kingdom should prepare for the 21st century and consider this to be an example. Embrace new technology, that is definitely one of the ideas we will bring home", Nottingham Business School's retail expert Bill Grimsey said. Jonathan Reynolds (University of Oxford), Stuard Ward (head of Scotland's Touristic Service) and Kim Cassidy (Nottingham Trent University) are also part of the delegation.
“It is an honour that foreign retail experts consider our city to be an example. Roeselare cannot compete with cities like Ghent or Antwerp because we do not have the same network, knowledge and financial clout, but we are doing well in our own way it seems", mayor Kris Declercq said.