Friedrichstrae in Berlin: Why so many luxury shops are leaving Berlin’s shopping mile?

Friedrichstrasse is in a downward trend. Many traditional shops have already left the former luxury mile. Now the French department store Galeries Lafayette threatens to give up its location in Berlin and move away. What’s wrong with Friedrichstrasse? According to experts, there are five reasons for the decline of the boulevard.

For years, a subway construction site burdened the quality of stay. The work on the extension of the line U 5 from Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburg Gate and the construction of the new interchange station to the U 6 could not be carried out alone underground. “This permanent construction site brought a strong cut for the business,” says Nils Busch-Petersen, head of the trade association Berlin-Brandenburg. Customers were the crossing of the road difficult and sometimes impossible.


The luxury department store Galeries Lafayette is a centerpiece of the shopping street Friedrichstrae.



Mall of Berlin rivals Friedrichstrasse

Influence on the economic development of the location Friedrichstrae takes also the growing competition. The former boulevard is no longer the only shopping mile in Mitte. Opened five years ago, the Mall of Berlin on Leipziger Platz attracts many customers. “There used to be a hope that Mall and Friedrichstrasse would invigorate each other,” says Busch-Petersen. But the idea that Mall customers would continue their shopping tours on Friedrichstrasse did not go away.

The vacancy rate of shops in Friedrichstrae is reportedly at 20 percent. The main reason is the insolvency of the property Quartier 206 next to Galeries Lafayette. The building came under receivership, boutiques like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent left the passage.

The neighboring house, Quartier 205, lost the fashion chain H & M as a tenant. A second H & M store in Friedrichstrasse is due to close on 31 August this year. The reason was a spokeswoman for the company “changed customer flows”.

Nils Busch-Petersen says the development of Friedrichstrasse must also be seen in the context of the development of the Gendarmenmarkt. In the area around the historic square, the catering business is experiencing a boom. Local operators would push from there to Friedrichstrae. “And they are willing to pay high rents,” says Busch-Petersen. The neglect would have the previous tenants – the traditional retailers. They are displaced.

Internet giants are attacking retail in Berlin

Busch-Petersen sees a fundamental problem for the trade in the competition through the Internet. More and more customers order from online retailers like Amazon. “Of course not only Friedrichstrae, but it is a reason for the current development,” he says.

Nevertheless, Busch-Petersen does not want to give up the Friedrichstrasse location. He was far enough from shopping miles like Alexanderplatz to have a future. The Friedrichstrasse could recover in any case. However, there must be new concepts that reach further than the idea of a pedestrian zone.

And the Galeries Lafayette? According to reports, the department store could move to Hamburg. There is a market for luxury providers there. For example, in the so-called Hafencity in the vicinity of the Elbphilharmonie, a new, large shopping district is to be created.