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    2014, a “black year” for trade, says Comeos

    2014 was a “black year” for trade. There was a record amount of restructuring, and turnover fell for the first time in 15 years, the sector’s federation Comeos said on Wednesday. Comeos says that 3,581 trade workers were affected by the announcement of a collective sacking. The number of recruitments has also continued to go down, with a fall of 2.39% compared to 2013, and 6% over the last few years.

    As for profitability, it fell by 20% in ten years, Comeos added. Prices in shops have also gone down since March 2014. By type of product, electronic goods have bounced back slightly from a bad year in 2013 (-2%) and increased by 1.4%. This is mainly thanks to sales of mobile phones. The turnover for DIY products fell slightly (-0.3%), due to the humid summer. Lastly, the Fashion branch recorded a slight increase in turnover (+1.3%) after a big fall (-3.9%) in 2013.

    “Last year was clearly the worst year ever for trade”, said Dominique Michel, administrative delegate for Comeos, who was quoted in a press release. “By going past our margins and increasing productivity, we managed to hold out for a few years. But that couldn’t continue: last year, we had no choice but to reduce costs, which made restructuring inevitable”, he said. He called on the government to “look at the restructuring problems in the sector, which suffers from lack of flexibility and high salary costs”.

    Jason Bennett (Source: Belga)