Retail Rankings of Europe’s major retail destinations

Read in Dutch

As a market leader in pan-European retail data, Locatus collects data of the 63 biggest inner-city shopping areas spread across 21 European countries. This data helps us detect trends such as vacancy, footfall and presence of major retail chains in Europe’s major shopping locations. It is constantly verified digitally, and locally by our own fieldworkers.

This article gives the latest data insights in the popularity of retail locations and retail chains.

Vacancy increases all over Europe

In all of the 21 European countries included in this particular research, retail vacancy numbers are rising significantly. Where the vacancy rate was 7,1% in 2018, it rose up to 7,8% at the start of this year, and up to 9,0% at the end of 2019. This does not exclude the inner cities; they are no exception to the trend.

According to our research, Lisbon is the city with the biggest increase in vacancy rate. At the beginning of the year 11,6% of all retail units were vacant, whereas 17,2% is vacant now.

The 2019 TOP 5 cities with the highest vacancy rates – in number of outlets – are:

Liège (Belgium) 17,9%
Lisbon (Portugal) 17,2%
Murcia (Spain) 16,4%
Antwerp (Belgium) 16,2%
A Coruña (Spain) 15,1%

The top 5 cities with the lowest vacancy rates
– in number of outlets – are:

Münich (Germany) 2,6%
Hannover (Germany) 2,8%
Zürich (Switzerland) 3,8%
Stuttgart (Germany) 4,0%
Cannes (France) 4,0%

In general, the West and Northern European city centers have lower vacancy rates then Southern European city centers. However, there are exceptions to this rule: Belgium and the UK both have double digit vacancy rates.

Footfall numbers show
which High Streets are most popular?

The busiest street in Europe is Zeil in Frankfurt. On an average Saturday, almost 140.000 pedestrians pass this street. The second busiest street is Oxford Street in London, with a footfall just over 121.000.

One of the major absentees in this list is the Champs Elysées in Paris. It was ranked 5th in 2018 but footfall dropped significantly, resulting in the loss of a place in our top 10. Data collection indicated that the 40% drop in footfall, is due to the Yellow Vests protesters that were present in 2019.

The other street that dropped out of the top 10, is the Meir in Antwerp.

Retail Chain presence in the major European cities

Over 3.000 retail chains are active in the high streets of our researched European cities. Some of these chains are local, other national or across border. Of the total 3.000 chains, just over 500 are presents in the high streets in 4 or more countries.

Only five chains (Zara, H&M, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Nespresso) are active on the high streets of all 21 European countries.

In the table, an overview is given of the major formulas active within our dataset. Most chains in this list had a decrease in number of stores:  H&M closed the most stores of all international chains in our European high streets. Out of the non-top10 retail chains Desigual (19 closings), and Promod (16 closings) showed the biggest decrease.

Joe & The Juice opened the most shops (19) within the 63 major cities. Rituals and Five Guys followed closely, both opening 14 new shops. Thanks to these 14 new openings Rituals is now #11 in the retail chain ranking, knocking on the door of the top 10.


Do you have plans to expand in Europe, or are you interested in the European retail developments? Then, you may want to learn more about our data. My colleagues are also present in Cannes during the Mapic.

Mail for an appointment to:

Gertjan Slob

Gertjan Slob is the Director of Research at Locatus. He is responsible for the entire data course. During his work, he is constantly analysing data, and frequently flags interesting trends and developments.