Shopping centres remain committed to "adapting and innovating to create value"

Shopping centres remain committed to "adapting and innovating to create value"

The "APCC Summit - NextGen Retail Ecosystem" conference fully fulfilled its purpose of being a moment of great relevance for the agenda of the organised retail sector in Portugal. Organised by the Portuguese Shopping Centre Association (APCC), the conference took place yesterday, October 11, at the LX Factory in Lisbon. Representing a unique opportunity for professionals in the sector, the conference debated emerging trends and challenges in a privileged moment of sharing and networking.

"It's not a conference to celebrate achievements or reminisce about what we've done so far, but rather about what we need to start doing tomorrow"

At the event's opening session, Cristina Santos, President of the APCC, reiterated that the sector "wants to continue to invest, develop, innovate and go further". She believes that Portuguese integrated commerce is an "international benchmark for different markets and latitudes", something that is due to the business model, "which we have built and which we are fighting to preserve, as it has proven success", and also to the "extraordinary work of those responsible for the sector" present at the conference. In this sense, the sector wants to continue to "adapt and innovate to create value, because that's how we've become a benchmark".

"We need to involve all parts of our ecosystem"

The conference aims to answer a simple but complicated question: "Now what? We have all this technology around us, how can we best incorporate it? We have changes in consumption patterns, what should we change? We have customers who are increasingly demanding in terms of the experience they have, how can we serve them better?" To this end, the president of the APCC emphasises that "it can't be an isolated or individual response, we have to involve all the parts of our ecosystem", adding that "we think of the APCC as an agent of transformation and change, as well as an aggregator capable of promoting networking between all the links in this industry".

Nuno Fazenda, Secretary of State for Tourism, Trade and Services, also attended the conference's opening session. Like Cristina Santos, Nuno Fazenda points out that "we don't have to look at what we did in the past, but rather look at now and the future". In 2022, shopping centres turned the corner and surpassed the results achieved in 2019, with a 15% increase in shopping centre sales compared to the pre-pandemic period, recalls the Secretary of State for Tourism, Trade and Services.

"The trade and services sector has to be taken on as a priority, as it is a strategic sector for our country and our economy," following this, "we have been developing various measures to support trade and retail, in the context of the PRR where more than 130 million euros have been approved to support trade." Shopping centres have a "very important impact on our economy: 120,000 direct jobs linked to shopping centre activity and 350,000 indirect jobs. More than 450 million people pass through our country's shopping centres every year."

"There's no development without knowledge and that's what this initiative brings"

Despite the positive results, Nuno Fazenda emphasised that we have to think about now and the future, and so he shared five challenges that we face in this area: climate transition; digital transition; integrated experience; the importance of qualifications and human resources; and social responsibility. The Secretary of State for Tourism, Trade and Services added that "there is no development without knowledge and that's what this initiative brings".

"Talking about shopping centres is talking about history"

The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, left a message for all those present at the conference: "Talking about shopping centres is talking about history. The first shopping centre was founded before democracy, and the development of this sector was linked to the growing openness of our economy." Marcelo stressed that shopping centres "played an important role in welcoming Portuguese or foreign companies setting up in Portugal".

There have been challenges, especially for local businesses, but overall "it's a success story", says the President of the Republic, adding that "in many towns that are considered small, they have built centres of social life". With this programme for the "APCC Summit - NextGen Retail Ecosystem" conference, "I notice that they continue to be aware not only of the current challenges, but also of the opportunities. You have to think in the medium to long term and have the ability to bring people together, as you are doing at this event," praised Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

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