BERLIN: Tighter restrictions Germany has introduced in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 are deterring people from shopping in the run-up to the usually busy Christmas, the country’s retailers association said on Sunday ( HDE).
The HDE said sales in the bricks and mortar non-food retail trade fell by an average of 26% in the past week compared to the year before the 2019 crisis, according to a survey of of some 1,600 companies.
Clothing retailers have been particularly hard hit, with sales down 35% from pre-crisis levels.
Visitor numbers to city center shopping districts were down 41% from 2019. This time last year, restaurants and bars were closed as part of a partial lockdown and the number of people allowed to meet was limited, even though stores were open.
German authorities agreed on Thursday to ban unvaccinated people from all but the most essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and bakeries, and also moved to seek to make vaccination compulsory.
“The introduction of stricter coronavirus measures in stores is a dramatic disruption to the Christmas business,” HDE chief executive Stefan Genth said in a statement.
The HDE therefore calls on the government to provide more financial support to traders.
Germany recorded 42,055 new infections and 94 more deaths on Sunday, bringing the total death toll to 103,040.
“Retailers had pinned their hopes on Christmas business,” Genth said. “But now many retailers are getting closer to the precipice again with each passing day: a dire prospect.”
According to HDE estimates, lost sales in the affected non-food retail sector could amount to 5.5 billion euros ($6.22 billion) in December. According to the survey, 77% of companies have negative expectations for the coming weeks.