It has been 10 years since the post “Un paseo por Paseo de Gracia” was written.
Society, companies, cities change, but their essence never dies. Since the crises of 2008 and 2012, Spain, Catalonia and Barcelona are in a phase of growth. A prosperous economy linked to several factors. Among them, commercial activity represents 20% of Spain’s GDP, 30% of exports and 50% of its high value-added activities (art, haute cuisine, science…).
How did Barcelona become the “Shopping city”?
There are many factors: an attractive city due to its cultural richness (architecture, museums, festivals…); investment in public transport and its, until now, low rental cost compared to other European cities. That’s all retailers need to establish themselves in the Catalan capital. In addition, Barcelona is the 3rd most visited European tourist city and the 10th most visited in the world with more than 8 million visitors a year, well ahead of Madrid.
With the behaviour of tourists; who combine holidays and shopping, many brands began to change their strategies by targeting the main streets of Barcelona: Las Ramblas, Paseo de Gracia or Portal del Ángel, which are the essential streets of the current shopping experience.
It is necessary to return to 1860 to get to know the Cerdà plan. With him, the bourgeoisie chose Paseo de Gracia as its leisure axis, where the Bank would settle later and then the luxury Retail. And it is with this strategic logic that Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho…) has established itself in this artery that crosses the Eixample, to Plaza Catalunya, to take over all the shopping streets of the historic centre. A group that could not remain without competition in this important area where H&M, Uniqlo… have made their recent appearances. The brands already have their Flagship in one of the most beautiful avenues in the world: Nike, Levi´s, Versace, Guess, Etam, St Laurent…..
How did Barcelona become a “shopping centre city”?
The city’s shopping centres are true shopping temples. Barcelona is a very interesting shopping destination, as many national and international brands can be found here. Spanish brands such as Zara, Mango Massimo Dutti or Bimba and Lola sometimes have prices 30% cheaper than those of other European countries throughout the year. The development of the city with the Olympic Games in 1992, allowed to rethink the city from its heart. The malls are already Spanish culture, thought as real commercial lungs where you can find all kinds of services (cinema, restaurants, children’s games, exhibitions …). . Shopping Centers with their own identity, a philosophy well developed by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield with its Shopping Centres La Maquinista, Splau or Glories are located in strategic locations throughout the city. Meeting places imagined in the city centres with Supermarket where you can walk to them.
What future and what opportunities exist for tomorrow?
Significant growth, new locations for companies linked to the digital sector (Amazon, Airbnb or Facebook) and an airport that continues to attract more and more professional and leisure tourists. Barcelona will not stop growing. But at what price? Rising incomes and global political imbalance give Barcelona uncertainty about its future. The true future of Barcelona lies in its internal strengths: those of us who have seen it grow and with whom it has grown – such as its brands – FCB, Desigual, Puig, Glovo, Yerse, Etnia…
The future clearly belongs to cities and brands. From Barcelona to the world.