Retailers propose changes to sales restrictions in Latvia

Retailers have made it through the first weekend of major restrictions. On Monday, the Latvian Traders Association (LTA) will submit a number of suggestions to the government,  Latvian Radio reported December 7.

The retailers surveyed said that customers were understanding during the weekend, and incidents were few. Reorganizing stores required financial and staff resources. Everything had to be prepared overnight, which was also an additional burden.

Imants Kelmers, spokesman for the retail network Citro, said that the cost increase was caused by vague and hasty government decisions. Had retailers been informed of the expected restrictions in good time, the costs and work resources could be balanced.

Kelmers said that everyone had one objective - to get out of this crisis, and the government is the captain leading the process and should take decisions in a timely and considered manner.

Kelmers said the existing restrictions had a countereffect, namely a large influx of shoppers on Thursday and Friday, when people made larger purchases, then a drop in numbers on the weekend. Such behavior was also observed in Maxima Latvija shops.

“We are already seeing a drop in turnover for several months. When malls where our shops are locate were closed on  weekends,  the turnover of our stores in them fell by 36%. It has an additional impact on our financial results. Since March, nearly 40 measures have cost us nearly two million euro. This is, of course, an additional burden. In the short term, we are counting on this and respect the government's decisions, which are being implemented by our own means, because we are also interested in reducing the spread of the virus as soon as possible,” said Maxima Latvija spokeswoman Liene Dupate.

LTA chair Henriks Danusēvičs said that current restrictions create an uneven flow of people. On Friday, stores had 20-50% more buyers than usual. On the weekend, however, there were half as many people in the shops as usual. The association will offer the government on Monday to allow retailers to work without restrictions on one day of the weekend but not work at all on the other.

 A second proposal relates to the upcoming holiday.

“Lift the ban on selling on holiday. Then there are four days when they cannot open, there are three days when they can be open and again four days when they cannot. It means 11 days are compressed in 3 days. It is absurd both from a sense point of view and from the point of view of limiting people's wishes,” the head of the LTA said.

Danusēvičs also mentioned the positive: people are accustomed to face masks and staff no longer has to mention their absence. Similarly, during this weekend, a nearly 100% growth was experienced by retailers' Internet stores. It is true that not all people  can order goods in this way, because deliveries are not ensured throughout Latvia.

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