Non-essential stores in Belgium, which had to switch to appointment-based shopping last weekend, saw a 60 to 85% drop in their turnover, according to a survey from trade federation Comeos.
On Wednesday last week, the government decided to introduce stricter coronavirus fighting measures on the sector following an advanced Consultative Committee meeting, which meant that from Saturday, non-essential shops could remain open, but by appointment only.
“There were far fewer people in the streets on Saturday and the customers who did show up found the new rules too confusing. If the first Saturday is indicative of the coming weeks, several traders are considering closing,” the federation wrote in a statement.
According to the trade federation, the fact that you have to “make an appointment in one shop and you can go shopping in pairs, but in the shop next door you do not have to make an appointment and can only go in for a maximum of half an hour” is confusing and is turning shoppers away.
On Friday, Comeos said that the sector would suffer a loss of €1 billion in four months’ time as a result of the measures, and said that around 13,000 jobs would be at risk if this continues.
“The government must now assume its responsibility by supporting the traders. Specifically, we are asking for an exemption from the national social security contributions for the second quarter and an intervention in the fixed costs of all traders, both small and large,” according to Dominique Michel, CEO of Comeos.
The Brussels Times