Commerce, 111 thousand shops lost from 2012 to today: 1 in 5 closed

Commerce, 111 thousand shops lost from 2012 to today: 1 in 5 closed

In Italy between 2012 and 2023 they are over 111 thousand retail stores disappeared – 1 in 5 – and 24 thousand street trading activities. At the same time, accommodation and restaurant activities grew (+9,800). In the same period, Italian companies decreased in hotels and public establishments (-8.4%) and foreign ones increased (+30.1%). And half of the new foreign employment in the entire economy (+242 thousand employed) is precisely in these sectors (+120 thousand). Taking a snapshot of business demographics in Italian cities is theConfcommercio Research Office which explains how overall, due to the pandemic, 6.7% of businesses with fixed locations were lost: today there are 440 thousand businesses that have survived.

The reduction in commercial activities is more accentuated in the centers than in the suburbs, both for the Centre-North and for the South. What changes is the commercial fabric found within the historical centreswith fewer and fewer traditional activities (fuels -40.7%, books and toys -35.8%, furniture and hardware -33.9%, clothing -25.5%) and increasingly services and technology (pharmacies +12.4%, computers and telephones +11.8%), accommodation business (+42%) e catering (+2.3%). If accommodation services are growing significantly in the North, in the South they are showing striking rates of change: these are short-term accommodations, not the openings of traditional hotels.

Self-care excels with pharmaciesand then the tobacconists have now become true service centers also on behalf of the public administration. Then there are the nearby food shops: the pandemic crisis is still showing its effects, that is, the support for businesses has then and there reduced the mortality which is unfortunately now emerging. Until mid-2022, the loss of food in historic centers compared to 2012 was limited to 7%, now in 2023 it will reach 12.5%. If it were to get worse, even food would end up in the shops that are disappearing from our historic centers.

The direct consequence of all this is what is depicted by the Observatory as a worrying phenomenon commercial desertification of cities: in the 120 municipalities at the center of the analysis, in the last 10 years over 30 thousand local retail and street vendors have disappeared (-17%) and the commercial density has gone from 12.9 shops per thousand inhabitants to 10.9 ( -15.3%).

Efficiency, productivity, innovation and redefinition of the offer are among the most recommended levers to remain competitive in a constantly changing landscape. What remains fundamental is theomnichannel, or the use of an online channel to sell (over the last five years, purchases of goods on the internet have almost doubled, going from 17.9 billion in 2019 to 35 billion in 2023). The growth ofe-commerce it is mainly responsible for the reduction in the number of shops, but it still remains an opportunity for traditional commerce.

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