Brussels' most expensive shopping streets see serious drop in rent

Brussels' most expensive shopping streets see serious drop in rent
Shoppers no longer flock to Rue Neuve like they used to. Credit: Belga

Two of Brussels most popular shopping streets, Rue Neuve and Avenue Louise, have seen a significant drop in rent per square metre over the past few years.

Amidst a severe housing crisis in Brussels which results in sky-high prices for rent and property, the shopping streets have seen their value diminish.

Rue Neuve has lost its appeal and the street's increasing amount of empty buildings was accompanied by a drop in rent: from €1,850 per square metre in 2015 to €1,550 today, Bruzz notes based on figures from real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield.

Avenue Louise suffered the same fate, with rent also dropping from €1,850 per square metre in 2015 to €1,550 in 2022.

Covid shopping trends

According to retail professor at the Vlerick Business School Gino Van Ossel, it is not only Brussels that sees this development. “Rent has also dropped on Meir in Antwerp,” he says.

The Covid crisis has played a significant role, as people stayed in and shifted their shopping online, which saw the popularity and success of e-commerce explode. “With the disappearance of Covid, the flow of visitors may have started again, but they buy less.”

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On the Rue Neuve, the excessive vacancy has also contributed to the drop in rent. “If you can’t find enough tenants, you have to do something. Then a reduction of the rent is logical.”

More popular streets

Unlike Rue Neuve, a narrow street that quickly becomes too crowded to be comfortable, Chaussée d'Ixelles has not seen a huge drop in prices.

“It is much more pleasant to walk through and nowadays you have almost all the shops that you also have on Rue Neuve,” Van Ossel explains.

That difference is reflected in the figures, as rent on Chaussée d'Ixelles has actually increased. It saw a slight drop from €1,050 to €950 during the health crisis, but has jumped back to €1,100 in 2022.

Uncertain future

In addition, Brussels differs from other cities in the sense that inequality is extreme, according to Van Ossel. “You notice that more and more shops in the Rue Neuve are in the lower segment; the most popular store is Primark.”

It is still uncertain whether prices will drop even more. “My guess is yes, but we live in such uncertain times,” Van Ossel states.

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