OPINIONDouglas, Mäc-Geiz and Co.
Douglas has already rowed back. But other stores bypass the lockdown by only offering part of their range. This is fatal for the effectiveness of the second lockdown.
It is an epidemic year for retailers: for the second time, tens of thousands of stores in Germany have had to close since Wednesday. In the middle of the Christmas business, through which some retailers generate a quarter of their annual turnover, the shops are now sitting on their goods. The textile trade alone is expecting a loss of sales of 6 billion euros, with 300 million pieces of unsold fashion items piling up in the warehouses.
The industry’s wailing is therefore more than understandable. They rightly demand extensive state aid, as recently received by the catering and hotel industry with the revenue adjustment.
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What is less understandable, however, is the behavior that several retail chains displayed at the beginning of the lockdown: First, Douglas opened it under the pretextbeing a drugstore, many of its stores, now the so-called non-food discounters like Mäc-Geiz and Action are following suit.
Fewer queues due to more open shops?
The reasons for the chains cannot be completely dismissed. It is true that they ensure the supply of everyday products with part of their range – and therefore insist on receiving the same treatment as supermarkets or (real) drugstores.
And another argument seems conclusive at first glance: namely that a larger selection of shops, in which consumers can buy essentials, could reduce the occupancy of all other shops and the queuing.
But precisely this second point has a downside: because where more shops are open, there is a greater pull. Should more shops follow the example of Action and Mäc-Geiz and look for loopholes in the Corona regulations, so many shops will soon be open again that the city centers will attract thousands of people to the shopping light. People who should actually meet as little as possible at the moment in the sense of contact restrictions.
Everyone has to play their part in the lockdown
In view of the increasing corona numbers, that would be fatal. There is still no evidence that someone in Germany contracted Covid-19 while shopping or on the way there. However, since 70 percent of corona infections can no longer be traced, this does not refute the thesis that crowds of people while shopping can very well contribute to the spread of the virus.
It is therefore all the more important: Now, in the second hard lockdown, we should pull ourselves together and minimize contacts with other people wherever possible. Everyone should do their part – including the retail chains, which are in a gray area with their products.
Or to put it harder: Anyone who deliberately interprets the rules broadly for themselves risks an even longer and economically more damaging lockdown for the entire country.