If you have spent the summer and early fall in hibernation, shopping level, the time to get out of the buying lethargy caused by the health crisis, you will find something to satisfy your taste for novelty by surveying the center. city of Toulouse. The Danish brand Normal, with its curious labyrinths mixing confectionery and bodily products in “soft discount” opened, not one, but two stores, rue d’Alsace and last week, rue Saint-Rome.
Rue Saint-Pantaléon, the Ô Linge de maison store will take care of your nostalgia for the emblematic Bouchara, and for a well-being sequence or home cosmetic workshops, you can always curiously push the doors of the new Aroma-Zone boutique in the Place du Capitole. As for Five Guys, the gourmet burgers, Barack Obama’s favorite, we will have to wait a little longer, but they are approaching in “the Alsace sector”. An area where you may feel a great void. Yes, the H&M department store packed up, without fanfare, in the height of summer. “We were also surprised, concedes Olivier Arsac, the deputy mayor for trade. I think the decision was taken suddenly in full confinement because the lessor wanted to renegotiate an already huge rent. But I can’t imagine that H & M won’t come back to the city center soon ”. Among professionals, this departure on the sly could have another explanation: “Everywhere in France, when Primark settles, H & M does not resist long and ends up leaving”, slips a trader.
“People continue to buy businesses”
But, in addition to this earthquake, Olivier Arsac has done his accounts. He believes that the health crisis has not created a major upheaval and that “local commerce has held up rather well”. He takes as proof the fact that sales of business assets in the city center – “200 per year on average for five years” – have fallen by only 20%. “It’s not nothing but it’s still a sign that people continue to buy businesses,” said Olivier Arsac, recalling in passing that the town hall does not have control over these private transactions.
When it takes the pulse, the town hall’s trade department is delighted with the proliferation of original concept stores but also recognizes a “concern” in the field of clothing, which suffers the most, after Saturdays “yellow vests” and the health crisis, competition from electronic commerce.
A simple “reprieve”?
Philippe Léon, the president of the Federation of Craftsmen, Traders and Professionals of Toulouse, shares the observation of a health crisis which has not shaken up the commercial geography. At least not yet, because, for him, “trade is on hold and the worst is yet to come”. “After three years of” yellow vests “, we had, for the most part, one knee on the ground, and, at the start of the health crisis, we were preparing for the funeral, he explains. And then there was the famous EMP [prêt garanti par l’Etat]. It allowed, even those who were weakened before, to preserve a treasury. We expect a wave of closures in the spring, when we have to start repaying. “
The professional also notices that, when independents close, “it is chains or large brands that take their place”, diluting the originality of Toulouse shops. He is also worried about the future effects of the low-emission zone or the work on rue de Metz. In the meantime, Philippe Léon’s colleagues are crossing their fingers that the end of the year celebrations take place without a demo.