Belgian rents plummet as demand wanes

Shopping street in Ghent in winter

As traffic in Belgian shopping streets - and especially in smaller cities - decreases, real estate agents have to agree to rent discounts in order to find or keep new tenants.

 

30% price drop

In smaller cities (think of Roeselare or Turnhout), rents have gone down by up to 30%, real estate specialists Cushman & Wakefield have calculated. Larger stores (exceeding 500 sqm) in larger cities like Antwerp also meet a similar fate, but demand remains high for smaller stores (up to 150 sqm) in the best locations. Shopping centres and retail parks also keep their popularity and price levels. 

 

Shopping streets see less traffic because of the rise of e-commerce, while only a few chains keep on expanding their physical store network - lead by the Danish Bestseller Group with twelve new stores. Hans Anders, Undiz, VanHaren, Rituals and Kruidvat all have five new stores.

 

Several major chains therefore demand discounts despite ongoing contracts: "All of this causes store owners in city centres to give ever more concessions in order to keep a tenant or find a new one", Cushman & Wakefield's Boris van Haare explains. H&M for example now demands a flexible rent, depending on the turnover a store achieves. Owner Qrf City Retail has already had to concede a loss of 4.5 million euro in income for rent in the five H&M stores it owns. Belgian FNG Group also admits to demanding discounts of up to 30 %: "In a lot of smaller cities, there just aren't as many people in the shopping streets, so it's only logical that the rent goes down", its CEO Dieter Penninckx says.