globe retail outlook data


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After a relatively expansive 2017, Belgium along with most advanced economies faced some headwinds in early 2018. The Belgian economy grew by 0.3% in Q1 buoyed by net experts and consumption despite lacklustre business investment. The consumer confidence index has maintained levels among its recent highs, despite pullibng back a bit over the previous three months. Retail sales increased dramatically in 2017 after a weak 2016, but are stable over the medium term. Growth in retail sales is largely expected to come from e-commerce.

The Belgian retail market is currently undergoing a transition. The key driving factors are changing consumer trends and shopping habits, construction on major axes, and years of rental growth giving way to stagnation and even decline. However, these developments are not affecting all retail sectors. 

Retail take-up for H1 2018 totaled 158,000 m², the highest figure since 2011. There was strong activity in out-of-town retail and shopping centres, driven by good commercialisation of new space. High-streets however, has underperformed.

Retail vacancy continues its upward trend, estimated at more than 10%. Brussels counts elevated voids of 7.4% and 5.9% for downtown and uptown, respectively, while Antwerp and Ghent are experiencing around 7.0% vacancy. Major Walloon markets count even greater vacant space, with one notable exception being Waterloo.

Prime high-street rents are at around 1,875€/m²/year for the best retail units on the Meir in Antwerp and on Rue Neuve in Brussels. Regarding shopping centres rents can go up to about 1,350/m²/year.

Retailing floor space per inhabitant is relatively low in Belgium in comparison to other European countries, but Belgium is catching up. The development pipeline is relatively robust through 2020, particularly for out-of-town and shopping center renovations/expansions. Later in 2018, Redevco's The Leaf retail park (28,000 m²) in Ternat will be complete. City2 will complete works in H1 2019 contributing to Rue Neuve's new look while striking projects in Hasselt and Turnhout are planned for a 2019 opening. From these projects, 88,000 m² will be added to the retail stock. Longer term, Seraing will see 12,500 m² complete in 2020, of which 80% is already pre-let. Mechelen Noord IV, a newly approved 24-store, 28,000 m² retail park is also expected. The newly revamped Belle-Île with 10,000 m² expansion will be ready in 2020, as will the renovated Westland shopping centre.

Our Top Tip For
New Arrivals

Belgium is a country of three official languages: French, Dutch and German. and the majority of Belgians also have an excellent knowledge of English. Belgians love good food. Excellent food is available at reasonable prices. Belgians are accustomed to very high standards of living.


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