Major social trends include the growth of online shopping and the growing importance of experiences over goods. Both of them have a limiting effect on actual in-store sales and as such the future is likely to see a continuing decline in the number of stores in the Netherlands. It is important to note that bricks-and-mortar stores and online presence enhance one another. The online market share of a retailer tends to increase in areas where they open new stores, while the online channel provides opportunities for retailers to cater to areas where they have no presence. The future will be multichannel.
At a demographic level, the major trends include overall population growth and the ageing of the population. The population is expected to increase by around 1.1 million inhabitants to a total of 18.4 million in the period to 2040. This population growth will stimulate consumer spending and potentially support retail demand. However, Dutch population growth will not be evenly spread across the country. The largest cities will generally see the strongest growth and will be much less affected by the ageing of the population, due to the continuing influx of students and young professionals. As such, these cities will continue to offer the best retail opportunities for experience-oriented shopping, especially in prime locations.
The ageing of the population is likely to affect shopping behaviour but could be an opportunity rather than a threat for neighbourhood centres. That is, provided these centres respond effectively to the wishes and preferences of older people, in terms of the likes of convenient parking, accessibility, lay-out and tenant mix.