From the point of view of urban researcher Ricarda Pätzold, a possible further branches of the ailing department store group Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof also endangers the development in pedestrian zones and adjacent neighborhoods in municipalities.
"In many cases, after a closure, there would simply be a large property that is slowly crumbling," said Pätzold from the Institute for Urban Studies of the German Press Agency. "You would have a void that also affects the neighborhood." Some department stores are in the middle of residential areas and are also a social meeting place, which would then disappear.
Despite the declining demand, Pätzold believes that the traditional department stores still have a supra-regional appeal. Many people come there to shop from far away. In the event of a closure, they would stay away. "And then there would be the question of how that would affect the surrounding businesses."
In view of the size of some threatened branches, the expert expressed skepticism that a follow-up use would be found quickly. "First of all, an idea would have to be developed as to what would happen to the building." Studies have shown that it can take an average of four years for such an idea to be found and launched. Plenty of time for the building to continue to deteriorate.
Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, the last major German department store group, has been struggling to survive for years. At the end of October, the company, which belongs to the Signa retail group, had to seek rescue in protective shield proceedings for the second time in less than three years. According to initial announcements, the company intends to close more than 40 of its remaining 131 department stores as part of the restructuring efforts.
The retail giant with its 17,000 employees is still represented in 97 German cities. The department store group does not expect a decision on which branches will continue until the beginning of next year.