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Chaussée d'Ixelles overtakes Rue Neuve as Brussels' busiest shopping street

Illustration picture shows signs requiring people to wear facemasks at Chaussée d'Ixelles - Elsensesteenweg, Brussels, Wednesday 12 August 2020. (BELGA PHOTO PAUL-HENRI VERLOOY)
06:03 27/10/2021

Chaussée d'Ixelles in Brussels, which has been car-free since 2018, has gained in popularity as a shopping destination during the corona crisis, and has even surpassed the Rue Neuve in terms of visitor numbers, according to a study by hub.brussels, the Brussels agency for business support. "The corona crisis has hit Rue Neuve hard," the study stated.

In the period between 2016 and 2019, Rue Neuve could count on an average of 43,452 visitors per day, while on Chaussée d'Ixelles there were an average of 30,684. But since then, fewer people have been visiting the main shopping street in the centre of Brussels with Rue Neuve seeing a decrease of 85% in terms of visitors in November 2020. Things improved slightly after that with the street reporting an average decrease of 54%between December 2020 to April 2021.

According to hub.brussels, Rue Neuve experienced the dramatic decline mainly because the corona crisis hit it harder than on the Chaussée d'Ixelles. "More corona checks and the adapted two-way traffic for pedestrians have driven away many shoppers," say the researchers at hub.brussels. "The Rue Neuve will soon be able to count on more visitors, but when exactly, that depends on the corona measures."

Another factor in the swing towards Chaussée d'Ixelles is the types of shops available. "There are more bakers, butchers, pharmacists and grocers on the Chaussée d'Ixelles than in Rue Neuve," said hub.brussels. "That meant that more people did not find their way to the Rue Neuve during the crisis." Non-essential shops, which make up the majority of those on Rue Neuve, had to close at various times during the corona crisis.

According to hub.brussels, it also appears that 86% of the shoppers on the Chaussée d'Ixelles also live in the Brussels region, while this is only 14% for Rue Neuve. "People are more willing to come to the Rue Neuve only once a month, while the rhythm on the Chaussée d'Ixelles is more regular," says hub.brussels.

Written by Nick Amies