Utrechtsestraat, Leidsestraat, Leidseplein; all three locations are dying of buyers. But when retail, such as clothing stores and home furnishings stores, disappear from a building there, places to eat and drink increasingly return to the street. According to the manager of the shopping street Sheila Prommenschenckel from the Utrechtsestraat, this should not go too far: “Too much is never good, we must maintain diversity.”

AT 5

Last November, four buildings on the Utrechtsestraat were still empty, but they soon filled up again. At this moment there is a property that has not yet found a new tenant. “There used to be an interior accessories store here,” explains the manager of the shopping street.

Of the ten applications received for vacant buildings, eight are for new food and beverage outlets. These are not restaurants or other classic catering establishments, which require a specific zoning plan. The cases are for food and drinks to go. “We got requests for coffee and a request for Asian treats for this building.”

The trend is not only visible on the Utrechtsestraat. “You see retail disappearing from the city center across the city and even across the country,” says researcher Laila Echternach. For example, until recently there was an H&M on Leidseplein and Abercrombie & Fitch on Leidsestraat is no longer in the beautiful old building on the corner. On the same street there used to be a Tours & Tickets, but it has been replaced by a liquor store.

Large inventories are difficult

According to Echternach, there are two main reasons for this change. Of course, online shopping is more popular than ever, which means high street retail is performing worse than ever. “Furthermore, it is cheaper for the hotel and catering industry to establish itself in the city center than retail due to stock costs. Retailers have to stock up on a complete collection for months, food and drink stock only lasts a few days. “

“The city must have a very good control of the diversity in the commercial streets, because eating and drinking alone does not work either”

Sheila Prommenschenckel – manager of the Utrechtsestraat shopping street

Big chains may not be bothered by those inventory costs. “But visitors know what to expect from the chains, so online shopping is even easier.” It’s often helpful for lesser-known boutiques to have a physical store so people can get to know them.”

“Too much is never good”

Many tourists on the Leidsestraat prefer places to eat and drink, but for Amsterdammers it’s a bit different: “I like to get a good wok for ten pounds, but it’s slowly becoming too much. I think there has to be a stop,” says a resident of the Utrechtsestraat.

The shopping street manager agrees with the latter: “Of course everyone has to eat and drink. But if you don’t have a reason to come to the street, then you don’t come to pick up food either. You want lunch, but you still want go shopping. You really don’t have to have a drink in every building.”

Echternach also agrees: “You have to distribute the visitor’s portfolio among more and more catering establishments in this way. Setting up a business is one thing, but persevering and distinguishing yourself is also a challenge.”

A street full of takeout?

As a city, we shouldn’t fear streets packed with food and drink, the food and drink researcher agrees: “You always want a varied selection. Eating is also something you do after shopping.” But if the other option is the vacancy, then the development is only positive, he thinks. “It ensures that many people still want to be in the center of the city.”

Since 2018, the municipality has prohibited businesses dedicated solely to tourism: “This plan also aims to combat mixed formulas in food businesses. The municipality has already closed several businesses based on this urban plan.”

But the resources that the municipality can deploy are limited, which is why, according to a municipality spokesperson, it is important that, for example, business associations also think. Prommenschenckel often talks to the real estate agent in the area and the owners. “Therefore, we advise them not to start another food and beverage business, because they’re just not going to make it.”

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