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Non-essential shops want to sell on appointment

Credit: Belga

Non-essential shops want to be able to allow customers to visit the shop by appointment in order for their businesses to survive, sector federations said on Tuesday in Le Soir.

The “Click & collect” system that shops have resorted to is insufficient to allow businesses to survive, the federations said.

Non-essential shop chains are losing €100 million in turnover every day due to the government’s lockdown measures which has seen non-essential shops close, according to an estimation by Comeos, the federation of organised commerce.

That means that over the period of the second lockdown, from 2 November to 13 December, such shops are projected to lose €4 billion. That excludes revenue from sales upon collection, but these are fairly limited according to Comeos CEO Dominique Michel.

Comeos would appreciate, notably because of the seasonal weather, “a ministerial decree authorising the withdrawal and payment inside,” as is the case for the hospitality industry. The sector federations are also advocating that shops should be able to receive customers by appointment.

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But even if these federations are heard by the next consultation committee on 27 November, these measures will not be enough to save the businesses, Comeos believes.

About fifty of Comeos’ members published an open letter on Tuesday asking for new financial support at different levels of power to help the sector face its expenses, starting with rent, which represents “10 to 20% of the turnover of our members,” Michel underlined.

He is asking for a “tax credit for landlords in exchange for at least one month’s free rent” as well as exemption from property tax and local taxes for shops in proportion to the number of days they are closed.

“These two support measures could make a difference by relieving the business courts of unpaid rents and offering an air bubble to businesses, large parts of which are in a catastrophic situation,” Michel concluded.

At the same time, entrepreneurial organisation Unizo has urged the government to make shopping on appointment possible by 1 December at the latest, arguing that traders are “desperate” due to “uncertainty, just as their best sales period is approaching.”

Unizo also underlined that additional support measures would need to remain in place, as the shops “will still be far below their normal level of turnover.”

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times