Fashion retailers call for action after a disastrous start to the summer sales

Fashion retailers have called on the National Security Council to allow people to shop with other members of their household and the members of their so-called “bubble”. The “bubble” is the fixed group of 5 people from outside our respective households with whom we are allowed to have normal social interaction (visit each other’s homes, go for a meal or for a drink with, etc.…). The call comes in an open letter written two days ahead of the next meeting of the National Security Council. At Thursday's meeting it will be decided which if any measures will be relaxed and which if any need to be tightened in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

The summer sales got under way at the start of the month. They started a month later than in other years due to shops selling non-essential goods, including clothes and shoes, having been closed for 7.5 weeks during the lockdown.

At the last National Security Council meeting it was decided that people would no longer be able to shop with other members of their household (except younger children) or with members of their bubble. This ruled out people being able to engage in “fun shopping”. This has clearly had an impact during the sales as the fashion retailers association Mode Unie reports that its members have seen a 40% fall in sales compared with the first two weeks of the summer sales in 2019.

This comes as no surprise to any of us that might have visited the Meir in Antwerp, the Veldstraat in Ghent or any other shopping street or shopping mall during the past fortnight.

Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ Mode Unie’s Director Isolde Delanghe said “We have noticed that individual shopping is putting a brake on sales”.  

“Compared with last year sales were 40% down during the first two weeks of the summer sales. This comes on top of a spring season during which we sold 40% less. This is dramatic. In the shopping streets in provincial towns particularly sales have almost come to a halt because people are staying away”.

In Mode Unie’s open letter the retail federation says that as things stand shopping is completely safe.

“Since the shops reopened on 11 May we have not had a single complaint that shopping isn’t safe. You can shop in safety so we don’t understand why stricter rules have been imposed on us”, Ms Delanghe added. 

Retailers says that it is incomprehensible that you are allowed to go for a meal or drinks with the members of your bubble, but you are not allowed to enter a shop together with your partner. Mode Unie hopes that this will change after Thursday’s meeting of the National Security Council. 

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