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Covid-19: Nearly 9 in 10 shopkeepers fear for survival

Credit: Belga

Without reopening before the holiday season, nearly 87% of self-employed shopkeepers fear for the survival of their business, according to the Union des Classes Moyennes (UCM), which supports the self-employed and SMEs.

The union conducted a survey of more than 1,000 traders in French-speaking Belgium.

In the event of closure until 2021, only 17% of shopkeepers think they will be able to survive. One in two shopkeepers remained optimistic, during the survey carried out by the UCM at the end of August.

According to UCM, non-food retailers have not had the opportunity to recover between Belgium’s two lockdowns. Sales in the third quarter (July-August-September) compared with the same period in 2019 are down by more than 80% and even seriously down, by more than 30%, for 48% of respondents.

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Despite the difficulties, more than one in two shopkeepers have adapted to “click and collect” and are more present on social networks.

Less than one in ten respondents think that the possibility of receiving customers by appointment would save their business, while nearly one in four think it wouldn’t. A majority of shopkeepers (52.3%) thinks it would be an improvement but would not allow for a normal December.

If the closure continues into December, less than one in five (17%) shopkeepers will have sufficient reserves, while 27% need more than €10,000 in cash.

To avoid the disappearance of ”an activity that is essential to the economic and social life of the country,” sales by appointment, “which do not pose any serious health problems, must be authorised as soon as possible. And envisage a controlled reopening before the festive season,” the UCM concluded.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times