A sad end of year for many independent retailers and SMEs

A sad end of year for many independent retailers and SMEs
The Meir, a major Antwerp shopping street. Credit: Belga

Yesterday evening, further measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were announced after the Consultative Committee. According to ministers, the priority was to allow schools to reopen at the beginning of the year. However, this has seen businesses in many sectors bear the brunt of further restrictions.

In particular, it will be independent retailers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are most affected. The Union des classes moyennes (UCM) that represents small businesses and artisans criticised the decisions taken by the Committee for “killing the Christmas spirit”, Belga News Agency reports.

“As well as the activities that have been forbidden in the events, culture, and sport sectors, the new measures will impact hospitality, commerce, and contact professions (such as hairdressers). A huge number of businesses will fall far short of their normal revenue during this crucial period.”

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The union called for the “thorough support” of independent businesses and SMEs that are victim of these latest measures (as well as those that had were already in place and had dealt significant blows to many sectors).

“The two main federal measures (coronavirus unemployment pay and financial payouts to affected businesses) have been prolonged until 31 March. The delay to liquidating businesses and plans to prevent this must urgently be implemented, alongside deadlines for loan payments being pushed back,” the UCM stressed.

The next Consultative Committee should take place in the first week of January, when new measures will be discussed in the wake of end-of-year celebrations.

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