Dark Times for City Centers: Customers Stay Away | Free Press

Berlin (dpa) – A state of alert in the retail trade: consumers hoard toilet paper again in Corona autumn and stock up on disinfectants. But there is a huge void in the shopping streets of many inland cities.

The closure of pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theaters and gyms is also causing the number of visitors to drop in to fashion stores, bookstores and electronics stores.

The situation is “very dramatic,” especially for the clothing trade, the president of the Textile Trade Association (BTE), Steffen Jost, warned on Thursday. In the early days of Corona’s strict rules, stores reported a drop in sales of up to 80 percent. Jost, who runs five fashion stores, painted a grim picture: There is a risk that the store will die considerably. “The face of many cities will change enormously. Some inland cities may no longer exist. “

You are not the only one making this assessment. “Retail stores are allowed to open in city centers, but at the same time politicians are asking customers to stay home. As a result, the company can no longer survive economically in view of the extreme drop in customers in many places, ”said Stefan Genth, managing director of the German Association of Retailers (HDE). Up to 50,000 stores are threatened in their existence, he warned.

The mood of consumers in Germany is not so bad. Despite Corona, the HDE expects sales of around 1.4 billion euros in the Christmas business this year. That would correspond to a 1.2 percent increase compared to the previous year.

According to a representative HDE survey, Germans, Crown or not, want to spend as much per capita on Christmas gifts this year as they did in 2019: that is, around € 245 per capita. But the purchases are likely to be very different from what it was a year ago. More than half of those surveyed (53 percent) said they would go Christmas shopping less often this year due to the crown crisis. And at least 44 percent announced they would “do more Christmas shopping online.”

Therefore, online trading should benefit from the unwavering desire to buy. “Even in the crown crisis, customers buy gifts, shop, but much more online and go downtown less often,” Genth said. In online retail, HDE therefore expects sales to increase 19 percent to € 17.5 billion in the Christmas business. Furniture dealers, hardware stores, and grocery stores also expect good business.

The panorama inside cities is completely different. According to a HDE survey, more than 80 percent of fashion and footwear retailers, but also about 60 percent of toy and jewelry retailers, expect significant sales losses in November due to contact restrictions and closings. . November is almost as important to the Christmas business as December.

In light of the troubles in the industry, HDE asked the federal government to open its current emergency assistance program for restaurants and hotels closed to retailers and to lower the threshold for retailers to purchase bridging aid. The managing director of the Baden-Württemberg Trade Association, Sabine Hagmann, also appealed to consumers: “Go shopping!”

But most consumers seem to have something completely different on their minds when they buy Christmas gifts for their loved ones. Even before the most recent shutdown, according to an assessment by the Federal Statistical Office, they began stocking up on toilet paper, disinfectants and baked goods again. According to statistics, in the last two weeks of October around twice as much toilet paper was purchased as the average for the months prior to the crisis from August 2019 to January 2020. The demand for disinfectants, flour, yeast and sugar also increased significantly. Nothing was known about hamster purchases of Christmas gifts.