First day of limited sales: customer flow same as usual, say retailers

Starting today, there is limited store activity on weekends and holidays. Only certain groups of products can be purchased. Latvian Radio and Latvian Television looked at the situation at stores on the first day, December 5.

Rimi stores await customers with signs “It's not possible to buy these items”. Books, socks, dishes, cosmetics and other industrial goods are covered with film. Shelves with alcohol and tobacco products are also cordoned off. A similar picture is observed in Maxima stores. There are yellow information marks on products, the cash register systems are properly adapted so banned goods will not ring through.

Cordoning off the shops started last evening. In major stores, employees also worked at night and had to ask for additional help. Shops may only sell food and hygiene goods, animal food, press and public transport tickets on weekends. Such  restrictions were introduced to reduce crowding. Shopkeepers say buyers are understanding, know about the restrictions and few conflict situations have occurred so far.

There was a significantly higher influx of customers yesterday, when people more than usually bought alcohol, cigarettes and other goods that can't be bought on weekends, but today the flow of customers is similar to that of other weekends, said Rimi Latvija spokeswoman Elina Šakirova. There is a similar situation in the Maxima shops, according to Maxima Latvija spokeswoman Liene Dupate-Ugule.

Latvian Radio also contacted Riga Municipal Police representative Lāsma Greidāne, and she also acknowledged that significant incidents related to restrictions in shops have not been identified until now. Local government police continue to keep track of the situation.

The customers said they weren't really satisfied with the new arrangements.  “I needed one lightbulb. No, you can't get a lightbulb. Such times have come. But nothing doing.  I don't see why it has to be this way. So drastic that you can't get some kind of basic household stuff,” said customer Armands.

“We know. But in any case, shock. Everything is closed. It's ridiculous. You can't even buy underpants (..) But what if you need them... unexpectedly. A hair tie for your child, for example. Nonsense. But on Fridays the lines are 3 times longer,” said customer Jānis.

To avoid crowding, shops have set the maximum number of people allowed, regulated by the number of shopping carts and baskets. Customers shall not be allowed inside the store without them.

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