Dresden, the retail beacon in eastern Germany

Dresden is one of the magnets of retail in the east. This is not least because of the city's tourist attractions.

October 01, 2019

What makes an attractive retail city? With its 550,000 inhabitants, Dresden has assumed a robust position with stable retail rents. In contrast, even for the “big ten” locations, no increases in rental prices are expected for the current year. So what makes Dresden’s retail sector so successful? We discussed this with Jörg Heinold, JLL Director Retail Investment in Leipzig.

Jörg, what makes Dresden stand out as a retail destination?

If we ignore Berlin, Dresden is one of two retail beacons in eastern Germany alongside Leipzig. One important factor is tourism: the Frauenkirche, the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault), the Semperoper and the Zwinger palace are historic buildings that attract visitors from the whole of Germany and from abroad.

Around the rebuilt Frauenkirche, the Neumarkt area plays host to many historic façades that have been restored in Dresden’s own Baroque style. The special thing about this is that modern buildings have been created on historic plots, which were drawn up in the 18th century, and therefore form Baroque street scenes with small shop windows. This is impressive proof that balanced proportions benefit inner cities in every way. A variety of restaurants and shops selling local products have established themselves behind these decorative walls with their small shop windows. Everyone enjoys spending time in such an environment, and not just the tourists from Asia who buy porcelain to take home with them from the Meissen flagship store.

Indeed, the contrasts are a typical feature of Dresden. The Prager Straße is the polar opposite of the historic Neumarkt area: a popular shopping street from the middle of the 19th century, 1965 brought about widespread changes and the realisation of a different urban vision. A wide boulevard and buildings stretching across entire blocks, hundreds of metres long, was constructed and evokes a scene more suited to parades than browsing shops. People do not enjoy spending their time in such places, meaning that these draughty streets are not conducive to a functioning retail sector. In the central section of the Prager Straße, two-storey pavilions have been added and trees planted, making it a more pleasant destination. Visitors arriving from the railway station walk along this street on the way to the old town and the banks of the River Elbe.

Like the main tourist attractions, the described retail hotspots are also all to the south of the Elbe – including the thriving inner-city shopping centres such as the upmarket Altstadt-Galerie, which serves a more conservative clientèle, and the Centrum Galerie with its range of international fashion for young people.

Dresden draws international and regional visitors from all directions, but in particular from the south: after all, the Czech Republic is less than 50 kilometres away. This further extends the city’s already large catchment area. The employees of the automotive and mechanical engineering industry in the west of the Czech Republic have a good income and there are good rail and motorway links to Dresden.

Which sightseeing attractions are particularly noteworthy?

I have already raved about the Neumarkt with the Frauenkirche. But my personal highlight is the richly decorated interior of the Semperoper – photos simply don’t do it justice.

What makes the atmosphere in Dresden unique?

Dresden is generally a city where people enjoy spending their time. The surrounding area with the vineyards on the Elbe and further afield, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, are wonderful places to visit.

Which district do you particularly like?

My favourite area is indeed Neustadt, where there is an exciting gastronomic and cultural scene thanks to the young, creative people there.