The fear of empty shopping streets. Long queues in front of the grocery stores – and pre-Christmas dreariness in the city centers: This is what the economy fears because of the tightened shutdown. What is the truth of the dealers’ complaints?
The fear of empty shopping streets
Alexanderplatz in Berlin exudes an almost eerie calm on this cloudy day at the end of November. A young woman crosses her path, her mobile phone like a tablet in front of her mouth, her gaze focused on an imaginary point in the distance, the noisy singing of a small band wafting over from the other side. At the entrance to a shopping center, a couple of workers are screwing gold-painted plastic ornaments onto a frame that is supposed to give the shopping mall a festive face: the sad backdrop of a festival that this year is very different from what most are used to: Christmas under Corona conditions. You can browse here for financial news.
Even the merchants have little reason to celebrate. Instead of anticipation, there is sadness this time. Because the restrictions that have been in force since the beginning of November are not working as the government had hoped, they will be extended until at least December 20 – and in some cases even tightened.
And although other industries are hit much harder, this time it is retail that feels particularly disadvantaged. “The big losers are many inner-city retailers, who are losing customers and sales under the Corona conditions,” complained the chief executive of the German Trade Association, Stefan Genth, on Thursday. Edeka boss Markus Mosa warned that under these conditions, the grocery trade could “not meet the high demand, especially in the Christmas business”. Rewe boss Lionel Souque even fears “chaotic situations in front of the supermarkets”.
The reason for concern are the regulations that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state minister-presidents decided on Wednesday. Accordingly, the retailers do not have to lock up, such as restaurants, theaters or fitness studios. But shops with more than 800 square meters will be able to let significantly fewer customers into the house from December 1st than before. This affects practically all department stores and furniture stores, but also electronics stores and most supermarkets and discounters.