Belgium's supermarket sector is expecting a bigger than usual rush during the end-of-year period this year, with some chains calling on customers to already start buying products with a long shelf-life now.
Belgian customers are urged not to wait until the last moment to buy products that have a long shelf-life and can already be bought earlier, with Delhaize Belgium adapting its promotional campaigns to encourage customers to spread out their purchases.
"It is better to start buying pasta, sauces, alcohol and other products that do not go off now," Roel Dekelver, spokesperson for Delhaize Belgium, told Het Nieuwsblad, adding that the company is also going to adjust shop hours on certain days so customers can be spread out.
Additionally, Delhaize expects it to be very busy at the pick-up points as well as for home deliveries, which is why it has increased its capacity for home deliveries by 30%.
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During the end-of-year period last year, demand for home delivery of groceries increased by 30%, and during the first lockdown, there was a small tsunami, according to Dekelver.
Chains such as Delhaize, Carrefour and Colruyt were then unable to offer sufficient time slots to customers, as a result of which it was not possible to order online for several days.
This year, Carrefour calls on customers to take into account that smaller parties with fewer guests during the holidays also mean smaller orders of fresh products.
"We have to avoid wasting food," a Carrefour spokesperson said, adding that the company calls on customers to anticipate the expected rush.
In the meantime, supermarket chain Colruyt has added a tool to its app which reflects how many people are in their stores, so the customers can check when the best time to go for groceries is.
Just like Carrefour and Delhaize, Colruyt has built up larger stocks. "During the end-of-year period, 20% more goods leave our distribution centres and drivers drive 15% more," Silja Decock of Colruyt told De Standaard.
As the expectation is that the restaurants will remain closed in December, the pressure on supermarkets will likely be higher than normal.
On top of that, the supermarkets are also worried about long queues. "We are going to apply the safety rules strictly," said Dekelver, adding that Delhaize recently installed a new disinfection system for shopping carts and trolleys.
The Brussels Times