The Brussels-Capital Region has launched an online shopping platform aiming to give a boost to local and independently-owned shops at the approach of the holiday shopping season.
Through the new mymarket.brussels platform, regional officials are seeking to give more exposure to small and local business as many struggle to keep up with online sales giants or better-known international retail chains as the country dips in and out of lockdown.
As Belgians lean increasingly into consumer-heavy operations like Black Friday, platforms like Bol.com, Amazon and multinational retailers have reported record sales and some have even been forced to cut back their aggressive sales operations as they overwhelm delivery services.
Representatives of the retail sector have also warned that a decision to keep shops in Belgium closed has hurt local businesses, triggering an exodus of Belgian consumers towards neighbouring countries like the Netherlands, where shops have remained open.
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Doubling as an online shopping site, the platform seeks to counter the economic fallout of government restrictions on local shows, helping businesses to launch or further develop an online presence during the vital end-of-year shopping period.
From organic culinary, beauty and self-care products to homeware, fashion and entertainment, the directory pulls together a range of local, family-owned and independent businesses set up throughout the 19 municipalities of the capital region.
"The recent sanitary crisis and the temporary closure of many physical shops have shown that the digital transition is, now more than ever, a necessity," according to the website.
Business owners also have the option to sign up their own shops and begin selling their products and making themselves better known through the platform, whose stated aim is also to help shop owners reach customers from all corners of the capital.
"Like this, a toy shop in Uccle can now bring joy to a family in Schaerbeek who only rarely comes to southern Brussels."
The regional shopping service also offers an "eco-responsible" delivery service, with couriers with cargo bikes hired to bring consumers' their goods, even in the city's pedestrian areas.
The platform's launch comes after federal and regional leaders yielded to calls from the trade sector, allowing all non-essential shops to reopen on Tuesday, just weeks ahead of Christmas.
The Brussels Times