Increasing number of shops in the Netherlands being turned into homes
The number of empty shop premises has decreased for the fourth year in a row, according to research agency Locatus. However, this is not because more shops are opening, rather, it is because an increasing number of empty shops are being turned into homes.
From shops to homes
Last year, the number of empty shops decreased from 7 percent to 6,7 percent due to the transformation of these shops into houses. In fact, 2.000 shops got a new purpose. While some of these shops were empty, others were in fact still in use.
Shops are becoming increasingly attractive investments for property owners to turn into houses. This is due to the falling rental prices for shops, which shrunk by 2,1 percent on average last year, and the rising prices for housing rentals in the free sector, which grew by an average 3,1 percent in 2018.
In previous years, the number of empty shops also declined, but this was mostly because the shops went in another direction: for example, they became restaurants or offered other services. Nowadays, empty shops are almost always turned into living spaces, as opposed to other functions.
Bad news for the Dutch shopping street
Whilst it may seem positive that the number of empty shop premises is decreasing, it hides the fact that the retail industry is still struggling, says Gertjan Slob, Director or Research at Locatus. Slob argues that physical shops are suffering from competition with online ones, and shopkeepers in smaller areas are bearing the brunt of the pressure, rather than those in larger Dutch cities such as Utrecht and Amsterdam.
Indeed, the Dutch municipalities seeing the largest relative decrease in the number of sales outlets are all smaller ones. The largest reduction in sales points, according to Locatus, can be seen in North Beveland, which experienced a loss of 13 percent. Following North Beveland on the list of largest loss of shops are the municipalities of West Maas en Waal and Sint Anthonis.