The retailscapes of gentrified neighbourhoods have long been described as one of the most obvious expressions of gentrifiers’ consumption subculture which was supposed to reject the suburban and franchised malls in favour of local, small and independent shops (Deener 2007; Lehman-Frisch 2002; Ley 1996). Nevertheless, some more recent empirical studies suggest that gentrification involves the reinvestment of the city not only by the capital embedded in the residential sector, but also by the new forms of retail capital which are the result of the strong movement of concentration, internationalisation and financialisation undergone by the retail capital during the three last decades (Wrigley et Lowe 2002). These studies follow Neil Smith’s theory which sees gentrification as a global urban strategy which is henceforth both spatially and sectorally generalized. For example, Sharon Zukin has identified different waves of retail gentrification in SoHo (New York City), in which corporate retailers, through brand-named chain stores such as Starbucks or H&M, have progressively replaced the independent galleries (Zukin et al. 2009) which used to make the fame of the neighbourhood.
However, the literature has mostly analysed retail gentrification in a consumer perspective so far, underlining how this process embodies power relationship in terms or race (Sullivan et Shaw 2011), gender (Patch et DeSena 2008) or economic classes (Burnett 2013; Ernst et Doucet 2014; Keatinge et Martin 2015). Here, I aim to shed light on the new power relationships between the different categories of retailers (mainly between chain stores and independent shops) which are raised by the growing presence of internationalised and financialised retail stakeholders. I argue that the new international brands’ interest towards some gentrified neighbourhoods matches an intensification of the reinvestment of the city by global capital. I would like to show that this “back to the city movement” (Smith 1979) of corporate retail capital also intensifies the social issues already identified for the residential gentrification, such as displacement, by concerning a new category of locals, namely the independent retailers.