Klagenfurt has many retail locations. Since 2010, 10 hectares of greenfield retail space has been added to the state capital. During the same period, retail space in other state capitals shrank or grew only moderately. With an area of 3.8 square meters per citizen, the state capital has a high retail density. By comparison: Graz or Innsbruck have only two square meters per resident.
The clarity of the numbers speaks for itself. On Monday, February 5, CIMA Austria's Managing Director Roland Murayer presented them at a press conference. The consulting firm carried out the economic structure analysis from spring to autumn 2023 on behalf of City Marketing, Business Services, the State of Carinthia and the Chamber of Commerce.
Retail parks are a pit
“Basically, the key people in Klagenfurt are good. The population has grown by 14 percent in the last 20 years; in Carinthia it's only 1 percent. The purchasing power is 686 million euros and will increase by another 10 percent in 2040,” says Murayer. With a total turnover of 1.17 billion euros per year, it is the seventh city in Austria (including Vienna) to surpass the billion mark. Peripheral retail agglomerations, in short specialty retail centers (FMZ) on the outskirts of the city were the driving force behind sales.
But it is precisely these that now threaten to become a pit. The surrounding districts of Klagenfurt-Land, St. Weed, Feldkirchen and Volkermark have not or barely grown in population and purchasing power is lower than in Klagenfurt. “Remote market areas such as the Upper Travel near the border, the Salzburg communities or the areas around Weinbein have completely disappeared,” says Murayer. The number of Slovenian and Italian customers is also decreasing. Additionally, there is competition from the Internet. 20 percent purchasing power is reduced by online commerce. The number of shops in the town center has fallen by 28 per cent since 2010, and there are many vacancies in places B and C.
One rule that threatens FMZs on the periphery: Big chain stores are currently in the process of revising their location strategy. In many cases it boils down to fewer and smaller branches. “Mattersburg has 40,000 square meters of vacant FMZ. It is the task of urban planning to think about what to do with these areas.” Examples come from Anglo-American and Scandinavian countries where schools, kindergartens, medical centers and libraries are located in former FMZs. In Tyrol they have recently been converted into apartments. “This is a new topic. “The philosopher's stone has yet to be found,” says Murray.