Seven out of ten self-employed people are under stress at this difficult time of pandemic and lockdown, according to a survey by the sector organisation NSZ.
The organisation polled 688 businesses active in the non-essential products sector, the ones most hard-hit by the current lockdown regulations. They are reporting taking down by unprecedented levels of 85% to 90%.
Only one in three said they had reserves in place to cope with a situation like this. Nearly three in four – 72% – have tried to make up for closure of their shops by organising online sale and either delivery or kerbside pick-up.
“However that is only good for 12% of normal income for that type of business,” said Christine Mattheeuws, president of NSZ. The businesses concerned are retailers of kitchen equipment, furniture, toys, fashion, computers and so on.
“That is more than insufficient. This is mainly because the majority (61%) of the retailers are active online in one way or another, but only one in five (23%) has a fully-fledged webshop. We want to boost that further with specific guidance for entrepreneurs who want to expand their sales channels online,” she said.
According to the organisation, nearly 20,000 retail outlets in Flanders have asked to be able to open up again for appointments with customers.
“If not, 18% run the risk of not making it to the end of the year,” Mattheeuws said.