Keywords: Sme Retail, town centre management, urban revitalization, retail policy agenda, shopping street resilience.
The sustainability of cities highly depends on city center viability and shopping street resilience. With the increasing number of shopping centers and the strong impact of e-commerce on existing retail systems, the major urban challenge has become maintaining a balance in the market. The governments have attempted to reverse these negative impacts by developing proactive policies and programs. Over the last 25 years schemes of Town Centre Management (Tcm) or like-Tcm initiatives have emerged as a practical response to ensure that towns are desirable and attractive places. Whilst most reviews of Tcm or like- Tcm programs to date have focused on their structure and operations, little attention has been given to the role of these schemes as a «competitive tool» to safeguard and valorise the Sme retailers located in the city centre. This paper examines the impact of «Distretto del commercio » – a like-Tcm scheme introduced by the Lombardy region (Italy) in the 2008 – on the Sme retailers during the economic crisis (2008-2017). Our analysis demonstrates that the «Distretto del commercio» had a relevant positive effect on the shopping street resilience and city center viability. The size of the effect depends on the different typology of Distretto, the commercial competitiveness of the area and the structural variables of the territory.