The first day of this year’s Summer Sales weekend received mixed reviews from organisations representing small and medium-sized businesses, independent professionals and self-employed entrepreneurs.
For the Syndicat neutre pour indépendants (SNI), the day could be seen as positive. A survey conducted by the SNI among 124 businesses showed that their sales were more than 10% higher than the first day of last year’s Summer Sales.
L’Union des classes moyennes (UCM) found that the sales were off to a slow start on Saturday. No records were broken, and the usual shopping pleasure is yet to make its presence felt on the streets of Brussels and Wallonia, it said.
It was mostly at city-centre malls that long queues of shoppers could be seen on Saturday, according to the SNI. After a poor Spring, this is a boost for fashion retailers, who also expect a good Sunday.
“Too many retailers had a bad Spring, but we’ve noticed a turnaround, which began just before the sales,” the SNI said. “Consumers have clearly found their way back to the stores.”
About 28% of retailers expect to sell as much as last year during the sales season, while 67% expect their sales to increase and only 5% are bracing for a drop, according to the SNI’s poll.
The UCM reported less enthusiasm. “Generally speaking, businesses expected more sales this first Saturday and have been disappointed,” it said. The situation varies from region to region, but this year’s figures are lower than 2019’s although higher than last year’s.
The shopping pleasure is still modest. In Brussels and Wallonia, most businesses began with 30% reductions, although in isolated cases they went as low as -70%.
Customers are still weighing their options between shopping and perhaps going on vacation. In this regard, the evolution of the health situation in the countries of the Mediterranean Basin could be a decisive factor, according to the UCM.
“Generally, businesses still have huge stocks left over and they would have liked to have an additional month to sell at full price,” the union explained, highlighting the importance of continuing to support the sector.
Two out of every 10 business polled by the organisation felt they still needed assistance to the sum of 5,000 to 10,000 euros to recover from the crisis spawned by COVID-19.