Favourite retail destination in Belgium

Antwerp is home to flagship stores and branches from all major retailers around the world. Next to these global names, a seamingly endless row of smaller, local boutiques with collections from up-and-coming fashion designers line the streets. You can find everything here – from grungy street style to catwalk.

Even those who don’t enjoy clothes shopping might have a change of heart here, where one-off boutiques such as glove purveyor Huis A. Boon line cobblestoned streets and where grand designer stores — including those of local fashion stars Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester — display a refreshing lack of attitude.

(National Geographic: Intelligent Travel)

Why Antwerp?

5.6 million

People within a radius of 60 km around Antwerp.
(Source: Jones Lang Lasalle)

6 000

Visitors per hour at the Meir on busy days.
(Source: The Retail Factory)


Of all European purchasing power is located in a 500 km radius around Antwerp. 
(Source: Antwerp, your prime business destionation, p.8)

High spending potential

The atmosphere in Antwerp is one of enjoyment and relaxation, which attracts visitors of all ages who are quite prepared to spend their money on gourmet dining, shopping, an afternoon or a weekend of culture and fun. The quality of life is high, and this is evident to every visitor.

Throughout Belgium, the GDP per capita – and hence purchasing power – is 21% higher than the average in Europe. In the Province of Antwerp, the GDP is 39% higher, and even 42% in the District of Antwerp. And shoppers choose Antwerp as their favourite place to spend their income.

The major international companies in and around Antwerp also attract a steady stream of international workers. Moneyed expats love all the comforts that the city offers. They also feel at home in Antwerp.

Retail DNA

Retail is ingrained in Antwerp. Trade is a crucial part of the city’s rich history and has helped shape the streets and magnificent buildings.

But Antwerp does not remain stuck in the past. Growth is an integral part of the city's DNA. The areas in and around the centre are constantly changing and are turning Antwerp into a magnet for innovation and creativity.

This is the place where trends start, entrepreneurs launch new ideas and shoppers discover the latest fads. And the city? Provides space, is being moulded and is open to everything.

Antwerp is like a big lab where new trends and new names crop up first.

(Denys De Kempe, retail manager CBRE)

of the national and international retailers called Antwerp their favourite shopping city. (Source: CBRE)

visitors annually find their way to the Meir, Antwerp’s main shopping street. All big international retailers are represented here, ranging from H&M, Esprit, Uniqlo, right through to Urban Outfitters.(Source: The Retail Factory)

Wi-Fi sensors collect data in the Antwerp city centre.

That is how much the district of Antwerp’s GDP per capita is above the European average.

of all polished diamonds worldwide pass through Antwerp’s diamond district, and a whopping 86% of all rough diamonds. ‘Cut in Antwerp’ is the world’s highest quality mark for a cut diamond.

Footfall count

Since 2016 the city of Antwerp has used footfall counting technology based on Wi-Fi sensors. The technology uses the signals emitted by mobile phones or other electronic devices when searching for Wi-Fi networks. At this moment 35 Wi-Fi sensors are activated in the centre of the city, giving insight into the crowds present at these locations.

Stores by sector

Industry Number of shops %
food & general 1 710 18.1
fashion and clothing 1 270 13.4
sports, games and hobbies 190 2.0
living, DIY and garden 653 6.9
car and bicycle 301 3.2
catering 2 703 28.6
culture and leisure 363 3.8
services 2 035 21.5
other 225 2.4
TOTAL 9 450 100

(Source: Locatus, 2021)

Find your location

Click the zones on the map to discover the shopping areas and retail opportunities in Antwerp.


Shopping centres outside the centre

The different districts of Antwerp have clearly designated commercial centres alongside bustling shopping streets. Chains like C&A, Hema and Kruidvat complement the range of local shops. These centres are easily accessible both by public transport and by car, and are therefore preferred by many shoppers. The largest district centres are Kiel-Abdijstraat, Wilrijk-Bist and Merksem-Bredabaan.

Retail parks can find the much-needed space along Noorderlaan, Boomsesteenweg and Bredabaan. These are mostly chains for furniture, electronics, interior and DIY products, such as Ikea, Brico, Media Markt and Cool Blue. These zones are a mecca for the efficient shopper: easily accessible and lots of parking space. And what if you’ve bought large items? They can simply be delivered to your home.

Rental prices

Commercial space in one of the main shopping areas in Antwerp … how much does that cost?

(estimated rents, e.g. retail space 150 m² with min. 5 meter front, source: Ceusters)

With major assets such as 8 million shoppers per year choosing the Meir, competitive rental prices, diverse and unique shopping locations and developments and 60% of Europe’s purchasing power within a 500 km radius, Antwerp has attracted the attention of fDi Intelligence, The Financial Times magazine.
Do you want to develop a revolutionary project that achieves digital or circular innovation or provides innovation in the health sector? Your project will boost the growth of your company. Your innovation will also be of added value to the City of Antwerp. But... you do not have enough budget to realise your project. Then be sure to read on. Chances are that your project proposal will be eligible for financial support from the City of Antwerp.
Wim Vanroose, scientist and Samira Lafkioui, fashion entrepreneur developed an online programme to make it much easier to design, adapt and share a pattern. The city selected Polygonal as a winner of its open call for innovation in the fashion industry.
Innovate Antwerp, published by The Global Village, is part of a publication series on worldwide innovative ecosystems. Antwerp is the first region in the European Union that is featured in the series. In the book, readers discover a wide range of initiatives, companies and people that focus on innovation.