SimCity Strategy Guides
Commercial zones sell merchandise to local residents, some sell souvenirs to visiting tourists. Selling goods and souvenirs creates happiness for commercial zones as well as happy shoppers.
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Sims will only shop in commercial businesses that match their wealth level, low wealth Sims need low wealth shops. The reverse is also true, a medium wealth shop requires medium wealth customers; if there are no medium wealth customers to buy it's goods, it will go out of business. In addition to this, some commercial businesses will also require tourists of a matching wealth level in addition to resident shoppers. Failure to provide shoppers for shops results in decreasing happiness and density levels and reduced commercial tax income.
Shops do not stock an infinite quantity of goods. They will have a supply for the trading day, once they are sold the shop will close having made a profit. This is great for the shop, but not great for the shopper who can't fulfill their shopping want. They can try and go to another shop, but if there aren't any more of the correct wealth level which they can get to in time (before the end of the business day), then they will be counted as an unsatisfied shopper.
These houses are asking 'Where's the shopping in this town?' even though there are shops right across the street! This is because the low wealth commercial zone can't sell to these medium wealth residents
Often this problem can be caused by zones being too far apart or too many traffic jams. If the only area of medium wealth residential is all the way across the city from the medium wealth shops, and there's a lot of traffic, Sims may not be able to get to the shop before it closes. This is particularly a problem for fussy high wealth shops that also need high wealth tourists. If there isn't a steady supply of appropriate shoppers then the shops will complain and close.
The best solution is to try and 'grow' nearby zones in a synchronous manner by upgrading both at the same time, placing city buildings to keep the land value at a similar level (i.e. if the residential area benefits from a medium wealth park then perhaps the commercial area could use a similar park).
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Some commercial businesses require tourists in addition to residents which means bringing in tourists from elsewhere in the region. This benefits greatly from the presence of other cities in the region; visitors will spawn without, but at a much slower rate making your job much harder.
Initially this requires mass transit systems. Municipal buses, trains, ferries etc, will all bring in visitors who, provided they don't get stuck in traffic on the way to the shops, will buy tourist souvenirs from those businesses. The type of mass transit will directly influence the wealth level of the tourists who arrive in your city, with high wealth tourists preferring planes and boats, and low wealth tourists arriving by bus and train.
Of course if there's nothing much worth visiting for in your town no one will want to visit. Adding a tourist attraction or two will help to bring in the crowds and can even raise cash for the city treasury. It is a good idea to make sure that your road network and transit system connect entry points into the city to your tourist attractions, as tourists are lazy and will easily give up and go home before getting to an attraction, a casino or event center to spend money.
You can see your tourist activity and quantities of goods and souvenirs in the commercial data map. This gives you a good indication of where tourists are going in your city and where might be a good place to relocate new commercial zones and tourist attractions.
Commercial buildings need to be supplied with goods. These are generated by industrial buildings as freight. In order to keep your shops supplied there must be industrial zones that can bring goods to them by road.
Freight can be supplied by connected cities if they have enough spare, but this is a very inefficient way of generating goods. If your commercial zones are complaining about lack of goods then add some small industrial zones nearby. It is important to keep in mind that lack of goods will lead to unsatisfied shoppers as well as lack of commercial profits and tax revenue, so it is worth putting up with an extra factory or two in your commercial districts to avoid this problem!