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Winter sales experience slow first week

© Belga

The first Saturday of Belgium’s winter sales period was somewhat busier after a slow first week which started on Tuesday.

The cold weather was expected to spur winter buying, the Syndicat neutre des Independants (SNI) said in a statement on Sunday.

Many retailers said sales had been 15% lower than during the corresponding period of last year, according to the SNI, which represents small businesses and self-employed persons.

The union added that ”seven out of ten retailers still had at least half of their stock left over before the start of the sales” and “over 15% even had up to 80% left over.”

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According to the SNI, the situation could lead to a price war at a time when profit margins in the sector are already “very narrow.” Many retailers “began at 30% but reductions of 50% or even 60% are already common,” the union noted.

The SNI reiterated an earlier demand for shopping in pairs – with someone from one’s social bubble – to be authorised because, it said, customers are not encouraged to go shopping when they have to do so alone.

It added that the government should not repeat the mistake it made in August, when sales hit rock-bottom due to the anti-coronavirus measures, “since the winter sales are the final chance of survival for many businesses.”

The Brussels Times