General Trends in the Belgian Retail Market for the year 2006.
24 Jan, 2007, BRUSSELS
The increasing trend of the rents was considerable, and spread itself to the entire market. This increase designed the ascending curve described by the rent evolution in main streets. 2006 was a record-year in terms of growth, with the record-rent price levels of the nineties being beaten for the first time after a period of stability. And the slight dunk in the number of letting transactions in comparison with previous years is the consequence of a limited offer in terms of qualitative retail space. In both shopping centers and peripheral retail locations, a similar increase of rents is observed. Although this increase in rent prices is supported by a growth in turnovers and an optimistic trend in the consumers confidence index, its downfall at the end of the year (consequence of the downsizing of the VW factory in Forest) must be underlined, even if such dramatic dunks, as explained here, typically prove temporary. Turnovers in the fashion sector (clothes and shoes) have somewhat undergone the negative effect of unusual climatic circumstances during the summer period: June and July were sweltering, followed by a stillicidious August which encouraged the consumers to concentrate their expenditures in shopping centers. In the end of the year, temperatures alleviated and logically had a reducing effect on the sale of winter collections. Other sectors have less suffered from these climatic quirks and registered excellent turnovers almost everywhere, at the exception of stores specialized in media and home entertainment. These increasing turnovers have reflected a strong business confidence index, steadily rising since Q2 2005, with a very slight downfall in January (source: Conjuncture inquiry January 2007, NBB).
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