Dominique Michel, the Head of Comeos (the Belgian trade and services federation), says that since 2009, cross-border purchases by Belgians in neighbouring countries have seen an average annual increase of 3.2%. A “constant” increase which has taken on problem facets, when comparing the growth “with actual sector turnover in Belgium over the same period.” The stark contrast is mentioned in an interview published by La Libre Belgique on Tuesday.
Michel says, “In 2016, the figure for cross-border purchases amounted to €2.7 billion (excluding e-commerce purchases, editor’s note)”, of which €861 million was food and commodity purchases. He elaborates, “The figure amounts to 16,000 jobs lost in our country.”
The retail expert is in no way surprised by the restructuring currently taking place at Carrefour. He indicates, “Retail businesses are currently up against the wall in Belgium.” He goes on, “In 2016, the turnover within the food sector was decreasing in the country, whilst in neighbouring countries it was on the rise…Our system does protect retailers from certain negative aspects, but we are bogged down in our own protective measures.”
Paradoxically, the mass distribution sector continues to create jobs. Mr Michel says, “Each year, there is a net job creation in this sector of 2,000.” This data is overall supported by the newspaper L’Echo, which compiled figures from the ONSS (Social Security Office).
The daily publication is reporting that from 2014 to 2016, 2,689 additional employed positions were created in the mass distribution food or part-food sector. By including non-food mass distribution (such as Brico, Inno and other similar organisations), the increase in net job creation is 6,848 jobs per year in this period.