I just found out Bari, the city my family is from in Italy, has ramped up programs to make the city centre more attractive to shoppers. This is no doubt partly coming because of the proliferation of suburban malls in Bari, which are a relativly new thing.
Until not long ago, the city centre was the only major place to shop. While the suburban malls are not that large and do not have the same offerings of the city centre, there is of course some competition, and the city centre association is not sitting back and letting the malls degrade city centre business any more than they have.
Some of the programs they are implementing are interesting, like branded bags. So I thought you guys might find it interesting.
Bari suffers from high traffic, and they are trying to tackle access issues to the city centre, with more park and ride transit routes, circulators, and they are also offering free weekend parking near the main retail street. This must have to do with the free parking being offered at the suburban malls and the city centre must feel it has to compete on that front, given the lack of rapid transit service into the city centre.
Interesting to see how a European city is trying to keep its downtown the centre of shopping and action in a metropolitan region which is being affected by the onslaught of American suburban malls.
The Bari city centre is known as the Murat District, in case you guys are wondering the name on the promotional stuff.
Photos are from the Borgo Murattiano
Specially branded bags for each store along with the city centre branding are being provided.
Circolare del murattiano. A shuttle loop around the city centre, connecting major destinations as well as peripheral parking lots.
Neglected planters on the main pedestrian street Via Sparano are being maintained by designated gardeners. This is part of keeping the downtown attractive and tidy, as it has suffered a little recently with unkempt areas.
Bikes are being provided for city centre visitors to use to travel between stores and other attractions in the city centre.
The Bari Shopping Map has been designed to highlight all the shopping available in the city centre. It is being published in three languages.
Music DJ's are being provided on main shopping streets throughout the city centre. This one is on Corso Cavour a major retail strip in the city centre.
Bike Taxis are being provided to shuttle people around the city centre.
It looks like they are working at getting shops to open on Sundays. As the suburban malls open on Sundays, but usually the city centres do not.