Mon, Apr 29, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Shopping districts must differentiate themselves: Ko

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Shuttered storefronts are seen in Taipei’s eastern shopping area on April 7.

Photo: Tsai Ssu-pei, Taipei Times

Taipei’s eastern shopping area is not in decline, it has only performed relatively weaker compared with other areas, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said, adding that stores should collaborate on a positioning strategy.

The closure of stores and restaurants in the area has been reported in the past few months, and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei city councilors have criticized the city government over the issue.

In 2017, consumer spending in Taipei was approximately NT$12.5 trillion (US$404.44 billion at the current exchange rate) and grew to NT$13.2 trillion last year, or about 30 percent of the national total, Ko said in a video he posted yesterday on Facebook of a speech he made at the Taipei Business Areas Development and Innovation Forum on Thursday that cited his own report on the eastern shopping area.

Money flow in Taipei grew 5.7 percent last year, while the city had a record 237,523 registered businesses and stores as of the end of last year, up 6 percent from a year earlier, he said.

“We are not facing an economic recession. The real problem is uneven distribution,” he said, adding that the statistics show that the city’s economy is growing through large amounts of small payments, while the opening of new businesses has exceeded closures.

With the emergence of cashless transactions, e-commerce, self-service store and artificial intelligence, the consumer experience is being rapidly reshaped and some brick-and-mortar stores are shifting to provide an experience rather than focusing on sales, so it is important for shopping areas to have distinctive positioning, Ko said.

The Dadaocheng (大稻埕) area has its retro atmosphere, the Xinyi District (信義) shopping area aims to attract “rich ladies” and the Ximending (西門町) shopping area is full of young people, he said.

“The city government will not step in to develop a positioning strategy for the eastern shopping area, because the government does not understand the market better than businesses,” Ko said. “Stores should self-organize and tell the city what they want so it can assist them.”

Xinbeitou (新北投), Dadaocheng and Ximending have all “fallen and climbed up again,” he said.

The eastern area is facing its first transformation period, so if it develops a good strategy, the government can organize events and build infrastructure, which would help people and money to return, he said.

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