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Bistriţa finds out the needs of their retailers and customers using a market study

21 December 2016

As in many european cities, in Bistriţa (Romania) the main shopping area has been relocated from the centre to the outskirts, especially supermarkets, malls and convenience stores. Involving local stakeholders, both retailers and consumers, is an important step in the process of revitalization of retail in the historical centre of the city. To get there, the first step for Bistriţa was to carry out a retail market study. The results of it must be seen as an initial analysis stage, offering important information for future similar research, with statistical representativeness for the city, as well as a starting point to initiate other suitable tools for deepen research methods. Sociologist Dora Baba explains the main findings of the study in this interview by Mihai Rusti.

> What premises lead to make a study on the revitalization of the economy in the historical centre of Bistriţa?

The study was undertaken in February 2016 and was made as an initial research of the issue. It was realized in 39 companies (that were at least one year on the market) and 500 youngsters and adults, with the aim to:

  • identify the consumers profile in the area
  • determine the consumption/buying behaviour
  • underline the consumption needs (products, services and events) in the historical centre
  • analyze the opportunity to capitalize the local resources in the commercial activity of the area
  • emphasize the promotion methods of goods and services
  • identify the support/facility schemes from the local authorities to companies
  • identify economy revitalization solutions for the central area

> What are the expectations of the retailers in the area?

The expectations and requests of the retailers towards the local public authorities, with regards to the revitalization of the economy in the city centre were:

  • ensuring parking spots around the shops and restaurants
  • facilitating the traffic flow
  • ensuring the optimal level of civility (eliminating the beggars and keeping the tidiness of the area)
  • organizing quality events
  • raising the tourists number
  • placing local markets with similar products in other areas
  • some fiscal facilities in connection with rent and taxes on the buildings located in the city centre

> What are the expectations of the citizens regarding the commercial offer in the area?

The most wanted products named by the respondents are:

  • crafting products (including handmade)
  • traditional products (especially food)
  • quality clothing and shoes (brands)
  • gifts, souvenirs
  • books, musical instruments, IT products

Local and traditional products, especially food, are the most requested by the citizens. One of their suggestions was to increase the offer of bio and organic products, like fruits, juices, tomatoes, jams, cookies, sponge cake, gingerbread, homemade pies, honey and derivates, milk and cheese, local beer, wine, plum brandy and other Transylvanian traditional homemade food, as well as crafting products, traditional clothing, decorations (including small pieces of furniture, carpets), hats and jewellery.

As permanent activities that are wanted in the central area we noticed:

  • cultural activities (concerts, shows, and theatre)
  • educational activities (shows, movies – open air projections and cinema - contests, youth activities)
  • educational and leisure activities for children
  • fairs, markets and parades (including fashion)
  • cultural events of big size and quality, concerts, festivals, educational events, sports, for community and charity, great fairs and markets.

Asked if they were to become entrepreneurs in the city centre, citizens said their activity would be: coffee shops/restaurants/clubs, pastry and cafes, as well as franchise brand restaurants, local traditional products shops.

> What are the main solutions proposed by citizens and retailers to revitalise the area?

The main solutions proposed for the increase of economic activities in the city centre are:

  • modernization of the space (architectural, conceptual, development of an unitary identity concept that joins together the elements of tradition and history with the modern ones)
  • organizing some important events
  • raising the level of civility and involvement and animation of consumers.

It is considered that tourists - an important segment in raising the economy level of the historical city centre – can be attracted through a better promotion, organizing big events (concerts / festivals / fairs) and highlighting / capitalization of local traditional elements.

It is interesting to see that at citizen level, as potential clients of this area’ shops, it is registered a high level of optimism concerning the revitalization of the retail in the historical centre.

> Which would be the next steps after the study?

The study showed the real problems that are faced, but also draws some solutions to overcome them. It is obvious that this ambitious step can’t have the foreseen results unless we create a real and honest partnership between the local administration and the private sector to raise the awareness of all the partner’s common interest. The following steps will show and develop the actions that need to be undertaken by each stakeholder. The good practices and solutions found by communities that are in similar situations represent good and inspirational examples.