Brick and mortar or click to order? The future of SMEs in city centres


14 June 2023 | 14:00 - 15:30 CEST, Square, Brussels

OECD Workshop at the 2023 Brussels Urban Summit 


City centres and local commercial districts are both economic and social hubs for local communities. They provide residents with local access to services and goods, are important sources of jobs and turnover, and serve as community gathering points and sources of local pride and identity. SME retailers in particular help to make town centres vibrant and dynamic. However, they are facing a number of pressures, such as growing competition from e-commerce, decline in foot traffic and shrinking consumer bases in many communities, rising rent and energy costs, and the impacts of climate change.

This workshop will explore both the challenges and opportunities for local SME retailers to respond to these pressures, including the potential of hybrid digital-physical sales models, the growing interest in the proximity economy, and strategies in reducing carbon emissions. The focus of this session will be to understand best practices and common challenges in the types of policies local governments are putting in place in co-operation with relevant stakeholders in the SME ecosystem. Organised as an interactive panel discussion, this event is open to all, including city representatives, civil society groups, academics, and others interested in this agenda.


Moderators: Anna Rubin, Manager of the OECD Local Development Forum and Soo-Jin Kim, Deputy Head of the Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Development Division, OECD

  • Joanna ZawistowskaPolicy Officer for Retail Ecosystem, DG GROW, European Commission
  • Claire AlbaretChief Operating Officer, Association du Management de Centre-Ville, Belgium
  • Luan Baptista RibeiroClimate Partnership Manager, London Borough of Sutton, United Kingdom
  • Julia Frohne, CEO, Business Metropole Ruhr, Germany
  • Hedda Jakobsson,Policy Strategist, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Sweden


The OECD’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities (CFE) provides comparative statistics, analysis and capacity building for local and national actors to work together to unleash the potential of entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises, promote inclusive and sustainable regions and cities, boost local job creation, and support sound tourism policies.




Brick and mortar or click to order? 
The future of SMEs in city centres

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