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Questions & Answers

  • General

  • What is te purpose of the Retail Trade and Shopping Centers Concept?

    The concept, taken together with the corresponding building zone plans, is meant to ensure that bricks-and-mortar retail centers will remain enduringly viable despite the online competition and that local supplies improve for all Frankfurt’s citizens.
    Retailing concepts lay the foundations for an assessment of retail projects by the politicians, main construction planners and the building approval authorities. Moreover, they create planning and investment certainty for retailers, investors and property owners alike.

  • Why is there a new Retail Trade and Shopping Centers Concept?

    The old concept was approved in 2008 and updated in 2011. Given the dynamic nature of retailing, the underlying data needed to be updated. Laws and jurisprudence have also changed in recent years. The concept’s objectives have fundamentally remained the same, with the focus on steering retailing at the traditional central venues and now, in particular,. Strengthening local retailing in Frankfurt.

  • What are the objectives behind the concept?

    Key objectives behind the concept are to strengthening the existing retail supply structure, increase the appeal of the centers, and secure local retail services.

    The spatial concentration of retail services on selected locations can avoid unnecessary traffic flows and boost synergies between retail companies. Sustainable urban development can only take root on the basis of clear spatio-functional allocations.

    The following distinct objectives are being pursued:
    •    Maintain and strengthen the regional supply function as a supra-ordinated center, in particular by ensuring a mixed-function downtown
    •    Strengthen centers in the city’s districts
    •    Improve local retail services throughout the city
    •    Design supplementary decentral hubs in a manner that supports the centers
    •    Ensure industrial and commercial parks are used such as to comply with the objectives
    •    Create certainty for plans and investments in existing or new retail outlets and block retail projects that undermine this

    The objectives behind the concept can be deduced from Annex 1 of the concept.

  • What is the substance of the concept?

    On the basis of an analysis of the status quo, the concept shows where the City of Frankfurt wants what retail services. To this end, it defines the so-called central service areas for specific categories that need to be developed and secured. It also defines rules for what product ranges are desired where.

  • What can the concept deliver?

    The concept forms as the guideline for action on the part of the City of Frankfurt. It comprises a key basis for political decision-making, e.g., by attracting large markets or shopping centers. In certain cases, it will be consulted for building approvals; as a rule, the concept’s objectives need to be implemented in the building zone plans. It also weighs up other needs, such as those of business. The freedom of trade and the protection of private property constitute general limits to the influence that can be exerted. Attracting certain segments or retailers is therefore usually difficult as the retailers themselves take the decisions on the basis of expected sales.

  • What is the purpose of the list of product ranges?

    The Frankfurt list of product ranges is an important and binding element of the Retail Trade and Shopping Centers concept. It forms the basis for rules on where which product ranges can be meaningfully located. The list subdivides the different retail ranges into those that define centers and generate the necessary level of shoppers and an attractive mix of segments, and the other (not center-relevant) ranges. Those product ranges relevant to local services form a sub-group of center-relevant product ranges; this covers short-term needs. These include, for example, food, beverages, bread and bakery goods, drugstores and cleaning articles.

    Center-relevant product ranges include alongside articles for short-term needs books and clothing, for example, electronic goods and home fabrics. Non-center-relevant product ranges by contrast, stand out for the area required and special transport needs, and includes, for example, furniture and DIY articles.

    The list of Frankfurt product ranges 2018 was adapted in certain cases in line with real trends. The complete list of product ranges is to be found in Annex 4 of the concept.

  • Impact

  • Does the Retail Trade concept not interfere with free competition?

    The Retail Trade concept defines in a positive sense the future objectives and on that basis the rules for developing Frankfurt’s shopping centers and hubs. It is legitimate for any city to determine where retailing will take place at the district level with a view to realizing these objectives – and where it will not. The focus is not on protecting individual companies from “unhealthy” or “unfair” competition and instead providing (legally firm) protection of urban structures that enable blanket coverage with articles for all types of needs that is as balanced as possible – in a city such as Frankfurt. After all, according to the German Building Code (section 1 para 6, no. 8a) the needs of business and of SMEs shall be explicitly heeded in the interest of ensuring consumer-focused services. Since services cannot be provided everywhere on the same scale, it is imperative that priorities and priority zones be set.

  • Centers and other locations

  • What is a “central service zone”?

    Central services zones (abbreviated as “centers”) are areas of the city that owing to retail outlets and supplemented by various services and hospitality offerings have a service supply function over and above immediate local supplies. The German Building Code defines “central service zones” as worthy of special protection. For this to be the case, at such locations several retailing firms exist with mutually complementary or competing goods offerings serving a specific catchment area, e.g., district. The spatial configuration and transport access need to be such that this service supply function can be realized. Contrary to prior concepts, the central service zones have been delineated down the land parcel as now only the actual business premises have been considered.

    Annex 3 to the concept provides a map of the spatial distribution of the centers in the city.

  • What categories of retail locations does the concept envisage?

    Graded by importance there are three types of central service zones: Downtown Frankfurt with a catchment area that goes beyond the city limits, district centers such as Berger Strasse or downtown Höchst, and basic service centers that mainly serve a specific district (A-, B- and C-centers). Added to which, local service hubs integrated into the urban fabric provide supplementary basic services close to people’s homes.
    Supplementary locations are aggregations of firms that usually have large footprints in what are often commercial parks that focus on consumers driving to them-scale companies in. These include the shopping centers that serve the whole city and are regionally significant such as Hessen-Center and Skyline Plaza as well as the Fachmarkt agglomerations of specialist stores for example along Hanauer Landstrasse. In their current shape they compete directly with product offerings in central service zones and integrated local retail service providers. In future, they will be reserved for non-center-relevant retailing. A special role is played by the airport with its retail services that are geared mainly to airline passengers and in part airport personnel.

    Annex 2 to the concept provides an overview of the categories and a description of each.

  • What do we understand local supply services to mean?

    Local supply services means providing citizens with the articles and services they need in their everyday lives in close proximity to where they live. Such articles are mainly food, but also drugstore goods, medicines, and newspapers. The goal is for the outlets to be within walking distance of homes. In Frankfurt, given the structure of housing estates and the market situation, about 600 meters is considered the critical distance to be covered by foot to the next outlet. This has been adopted when defining blanket local supply services.

  • Why do we apply minimum outlet numbers for central service zones?

    Frankfurt/Main is a densely populated supra-ordinated center. To function as a central service zone an aggregation of retail outlets must therefore have a comparatively high “urban weighting”. This means serving at least 10,000 inhabitants and including at least ten (as a rule 20-40) retail outlets as well as supplementary service providers.
    For the “district center” category, at least 100,000 inhabitants must be served, and such centers regularly have over 100 outlets with more than 10,000 m² of sales space. Downtown as the main center fulfills a supra-regional supply service function providing an extensive mix of magnet operations, specialist retailing, service and hospitality offerings as well as public and cultural institutions.

  • What are “supplementary locations”?

    Alongside the central service zones there are locations, for example next to highway ramps where large specialist stores set up shop. If this trend continues to be favored and classical commercial operations not prioritized instead, then such areas are termed supplementary locations. However, they must not house companies that belong in the centers.
    Added to this, there are shopping centers of significance for the entire city and region, such as Hessen-Center and Skyline Plaza, as well as the airport as a special location.


Contact partner(s)

Ms. Jacqueline Botur

Telephone: +49 (0)69 212 35088
Fax: +49 (0)69 212 30731