Despite many independent shop owners making less than in a normal year, more than half said the sales period just ending turned out better than expected.
The poll was carried out by industry representatives Mode Unie and Unizo, which represents the self-employed. The sales period will end officially on Saturday.
Last year the summer sales were postponed for a month to allow shops more time to sell off stock at normal prices. But the plan backfired when, during July, the Covid-19 figures began to rise, and new rules discouraged many people from visiting the sales.
This year the period was returned to July, and although the results cannot be compared to a normal year, shop owners in general consider the outcome to have been better than expected.
The informal poll talked to 154 independent owners – so none of the major chains – with 51.3% reporting they had sold less than in 2019. But 24.7% sold the same as the last normal year, and 23.5% said they even sold more.
"We expected to end up with an average sale of -12% compared to 2019, but we have ended up at -6.7%,” said Isolde Delanghe of Mode Unie.
“That is certainly not positive, although it is normal with the bad weather and the fact that, for example, parties have not yet fully started again."
One of the changes that helped limit the damage this year was the use of social media, with about 75% of shops saying they used social media platforms to engage with customers. In seven out of ten cases, that brought a benefit of 10% more sales.
Now, with the sales almost over, most owners are now looking forward with more confidence, the poll reports. Almost six in ten are hoping for similar or better sales figures in the latter part of the year compared to 2019.
"We have had three very bad seasons, each time with a turnover of -30%, but we are seeing a turnaround,” said Delanghe. “It will still be less than in a normal winter season, but we are hopeful."