In Germany, only vaccinated people are allowed to visit non-essential stores: retailers must scan consumers' Covid pass upon entry. The retail sector fears for its Christmas sales.
Already a drop in footfall
Germany is imposing strict new Covid measures that also affect the retail industry. Earlier, some states (Länder in German) had already ruled that customers' Covid passes had to be scanned when entering shops, but now the rule applies to the entire country. Only those who received two vaccinations or recovered from Covid are allowed to enter, except for essential stores such as supermarkets. Anyone can still visit those.
The measures are met with strong criticism from the traders themselves. The scanning process is cumbersome and has already caused long queues, as witnessed in Berlin last weekend. Fewer people are visiting the shopping streets: the Berlin-Brandenburg trade association has already recorded a drop in the frequency of sales during the first weekend of the end-of-year period. According to German news service TagesSchau, the association expects sales to drop by 15 to even 40 per cent during the important Christmas period.
"Basically a lockdown"
"This is a catastrophe for the retail trade as we are in the middle of the Christmas period", says the trade association Handelsverbands Nord. "Waiting times at the door are not necessarily conducive to the shopping atmosphere." The trade associations also point out that employees are once again the victims and have to deal with a lot of aggression and frustration. Studies have shown that there is hardly any risk of contracting Covid in stores.
The German Economic Institute (IW) estimates a loss in turnover of around 5.3 billion euros for physical retail in December, not including the additional costs incurred by the access controls. Retailers also fear that supermarkets and e-commerce players will take their non-food sales. Some retailers, including sports chain Intersport, are already requesting government support, as they believe it is the equivalent of a new lockdown but for the unvaccinated.
There is also a bill on the table in the Netherlands to make the Covid pass compulsory in non-essential stores. But it is still being debated.