Why are French city centres attracting fewer visitors?

A closed cafe on a dilapidated street in Sommières, France. Why are French city centres attracting fewer visitors?
The government has launched schemes to help revive France's ailing city centres

Experts say there are many factors at play - notably competition from large shops on city outskirts that have more parking spaces - which are leaving an increasing number of vacant commercial properties in city centres. 

The number of vacant commercial properties in French city centres is rising, according to figures from specialist shop federation Procos (Fédération pour la Promotion du Commerce Spécialisé).

The figures show that 7% of commercial properties in France were vacant in 2012. This rose to 12% in 2018. In medium-sized cities specifically, around 15% of commercial properties are vacant. 

Additionally, the number of clients entering city centre shops has gone down by more than 5% each year for the past five years.

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