Is the crisis in small shops in Italy an unstoppable trend?

In Italy in 5 years (between 2011 and 2016) 267,000 shops closed, on average 122 per day, according to website. The economic crisis has hit mostly small and medium-sized businesses.

Shoemakers, leather goods, textile clothing stores, newsagents, independent bookshops, small food shops. In 2017, around 10,000 retail businesses were closed without being replaced - in fact a shop had disappeared every hour. In the last ten years stores have fallen by almost 63 thousand units (-10.9%) against an increase of almost 40 thousand units (+ 13.1%) of hotels, bars and restaurants and a 77.6% growth in online or door-to-door business.

Photo: Men’s Fashion Group Florence

Textile clothing stores, whose number has fallen by a fifth to slightly more than 127 thousand stores, must defend from the progress of the large chains of low prices and fast fashion.

Looking at the labor market, the situation does not look better. Excluding the liberal professions, from 2007 to today, entrepreneurs, self-employed workers and family workers have decreased from 4.3 million to 3.7, with a loss of over 600 thousand.

Why do small shops close?

"The small shops continue to close for a series of causes - says Mauro Bussoni, Secretary General of Confesercenti - The first is linked to the sharp decline in purchasing power and consumption.The crisis, in short, has not finished. It is then a clear political responsibility: having liberalized the opening hours even on Sunday has undoubtedly favored the large-scale distribution. The online trade has given the coup de grace, making the smaller companies suffer."

While I am writing this article, my 12-year old daughter was browsing online clothing shops on her phone. I asked her why does she want to shop online and she said: "Online there is a bigger choice". It is that simple. Then here is the solution for offline shops in my opinion:

- they should create an online shop as well to show their variety
- they should offer some more services in the offline shops in order to make visitors to come to the real shop as well - offer made-to-measure services, made-to-order clothing, repairs, promotions or other incentives.

"The solution for shops to remain competitive is to offer Made To Measure services & to use Made To Order solutions offered from producers in Europe and in this way reduce the supply chain time from 9 months to 2-4 weeks.", said The Sales Director of Men's Fashion Group Dean Manev during the International TOCICO conference in Berlin, Germany on 19 July 2017.

Men’s Fashion Cluster and Men’s Fashion Group Florence offer solutions for Supply Chain Synchronization, keeping the value of the European product, keeping the European working places, opening of new working places for new employees.

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Tags:Italy, shops, economic crisis, small business, clothing shops, made-to-measure, made-to-order

About the Author

Silvia Kabaivanova

As the founder of Be Global Fashion Network and several other fashion websites, Silvia has been working for more than 20 years covering fashion industry trends and news. With a passion for the fashion business, she focuses on sustainable fashion and innovations, custom fashion and print on demand services. Silvia is a Chairman of Bulgarian Fashion Association. You can reach her at

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