The Helsinki City Council has commissioned a vitality assessment, which drew attention to the deep problems of downtown businesses. The Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce has revealed that the turnover of companies operating in downtown areas was 20-30 percent lower this fall than before the coronavirus pandemic in 2019.
The assessment also highlighted the increase in the proportion of empty business premises and the decrease in the number of stores open on Saturdays. The share of empty business premises in the city was nine percent in the first half of 2022, an increase of 0.9 percentage points from 2021 and 3.5 percentage points from 2020.
On Saturdays, shops are open less, but no corresponding decrease has been observed in the number of cafes and restaurants.
“A lot of businesses have given up,” he said.
– In the central blocks of the city center, things look bad to the extent that there are longer sections where new tenants cannot be found immediately.
Pakarinen interpreted the situation partly as a sign that the city center has not yet recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, partly as a sign of a changing world, when the acceleration of remote work reduces the number of people in the center.
“The shopping you do after work or at lunchtime has decreased,” he said.
Accordingly, the number of visitors to the city has not yet recovered even close to the pre-pandemic level. According to Pakarinen, local decision-makers should consider measures to revitalize the area in cooperation with companies.
“The city could achieve quite a lot with its own actions. You could be bolder in licensing businesses and give more freedom to experiment with revitalizing the streets. There is no shortage of space on Keskuskatu, for example. Everything could be developed there,” he commented.
He also expressed his support for the idea of covering the street, possibly even Aleksanterinkatu.
“I think covering the streets is a very good idea at this latitude and in this climate, so that you can move around in the center even in bad weather,” he told the newspaper.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: The Nordic Page