Shoppers in Flanders were caught off-guard on Wednesday after a number of shops in cities across the Dutch-speaking region unexpectedly shut down for the day, in what appeared to be an unorthodox initiative meant to boost local businesses.
The seemingly counter-intuitive move is only part of a campaign aiming to raise awareness on the impact that the rising popularity of online shopping is having on brick-and-mortar shops.
Book stores, butcheries, bakeries and retail shops in cities like Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven all appeared to be shut down to business on Wednesday.
“It is a wake-up call to the consumer to shop more consciously,” Filip Horemans, spokesperson for the Unizo entrepreneurial organisation behind the campaign, told De Standaard.
According to Unizo, the simplicity of online shopping is funnelling shoppers out of high-streets across Flanders.
“With this campaign, we want to show that it is not easy to thrive as a business in the current landscape,” Horemans said.
Ultimately, the campaign aims to push more residents to consume locally in order to give a boost to local economies.
“If every family in Belgium spends a hundred extra euros per year in their own country —instead of online— that would lead to the creation of 1,785 jobs in Belgian retail,” a statement by the organisation said.
The Brussels Times