BERLIN / ESSEN (dpa-AFX) – Despite the reopening of many stores in the corona crisis, the economic situation in the retail sector remains tense. “Where many stores were allowed to reopen on Monday, sales remained rather low compared to the times before Corona,” said the managing director of the German Trade Association (HDE), Stefan Genth, on Tuesday. “The cause is certainly the overall very bad consumer mood. People are afraid for their jobs or are already working short-time.”
Because of the week-long closure of shops beyond the food trade in the Corona crisis, the proceeds have broken away there. This is why demands for new rules for Sunday opening times are rising again – most recently expressed by the head of the bookstore chain Thalia Bücher, Michael Busch. “In order to equalize the flow of customers, I would like flexibility on Sundays, limited to the end of January next year,” he told the newspapers of the Funke media group. “In this way, the retail trade could bring back some of the lost sales.”
The trade association had also made a similar request in a position paper a few weeks ago. “Sunday opening is about giving non-grocers the opportunity to compensate for at least some of the lost sales due to the closings,” said HDE boss Genth on request. The association also has in mind a regulation limited to the current year.
However, the retail world is divided on the question, said Genth. “While the Sunday opening in the non-food area can be a sensible measure, the grocers with their staff and logistics certainly need a free Sunday to catch their breath.”
The Verdi union immediately rejected the demands. “The corona crisis is now being misused to sell old wine in new bottles,” said Federal Executive Board member Stefanie Nutzberger on Tuesday. “The claim that jobs can be secured by extending shop hours is a march.” In the past, expanding shop opening hours would have cost jobs. “Many full-time jobs have also been converted into part-time jobs.”
In the context of the reopening in the retail trade, Benefitberger emphasized that the protection of employees “must have top priority”. To achieve this, nationwide measures would have to be decided between works councils and employers.
As far as the rules for openings beyond the food trade are concerned, the situation in the federal states continued to be extremely different on Tuesday. In Berlin it was only in the afternoon that advice was given on which measures should apply in the capital. Above all, it was unclear whether department stores with reduced space could also open.
The background to this is the agreement between the federal and state governments last week, in which shop openings are only permitted for shops with a sales area of up to 800 square meters. In some states, however, larger stores can also open if they reduce their space accordingly.
The Essen department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof has now reopened nearly 50 of its 170 branches nationwide with limited sales space. In Hesse, Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, locations are again available to customers, as can be seen from an overview of the company belonging to the Austrian Holding Signa. The entire range is offered on a reduced sales area, it says there.
The furniture giant Ikea has meanwhile announced that it will reopen its furniture stores in North Rhine-Westphalia on Wednesday. NRW is the only federal state in which this is again possible for furniture stores./maa/hff/DP/fba