High Street Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Shopkeepers Strategies of Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul


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Kırpık E., Türkün A.

A|Z : ITU JOURNAL OF FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE, vol.21, no.1, pp.113-131, 2024 (Scopus)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.58278/0.2024.40
  • Journal Name: A|Z : ITU JOURNAL OF FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, Avery, Design & Applied Arts Index, Directory of Open Access Journals, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.113-131
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes

Abstract

This study investigates the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on high streets, focusing on Istiklal Avenue, a historical shopping street in Istanbul, Türkiye. It seeks to uncover the relationship between the resilience of the high street and the response strategies of shopkeepers by examining how they coped with the challenges of the pandemic, adapted to changing conditions, and adopted immediate, temporary, or permanent strategies. To this end, 71 businesses’ shopkeepers, managers, and employees were interviewed in-depth to gain a subjective and profound understanding of their micro-resilience. The findings reveal that businesses in and around Istiklal Avenue responded to the COVID-19 crisis through preventive measures to contain the spread of the pandemic, operational and financial strategies, space adaptations, and alternative interventions, as well as a widespread preference for inaction. These strategies are closely linked to the policies implemented by central and local governments during the pandemic, government support and incentives, and the ability of businesses to take advantage of these policies. Additionally, the response to the crisis is significantly influenced by business characteristics, including sector, activity, size and crisis experience. Significantly, the study highlights a mutually reinforcing relationship between the resilience of high street businesses and the overall resilience of the high street itself. The historical continuity of the high street, its previous crisis experiences, its ability to adapt quickly to the changing conditions of each period, and therefore the resilience of the high street becomes a guiding factor in the decision-making mechanisms of the shopkeepers and increases their resilience.