Retailers struggle with the 2G rule for shops

Status: 02.12.2021 8:16 a.m.

What has already been decided in several federal states could now also come nationwide: a 2G obligation in retail. There is loud criticism from the industry, and many shops fear that they will lose their Christmas business.

By Notker Blechner,

If you wanted to go shopping in Berlin on the first weekend in Advent, you sometimes needed a lot of time. There were long queues in front of many shops. Because since last Saturday only vaccinated or convalescent people have been allowed to go shopping in the capital’s shops. Employees or security guards have to check customers’ vaccination records or QR codes.

Frequency decreases in Berlin

Because of the long waiting times, many Berliners decided not to go on a pre-Christmas shopping tour. This is confirmed by Nils Busch-Petersen, General Manager of the Berlin-Brandenburg Trade Association. “We’re already seeing frequency drops,” he said. He anticipates a drop in sales of 15 to 40 percent. The workers are the ones who suffer. “The employees have to give up the auxiliary police and endure confrontations with the customers during the controls.”

In addition to Berlin, the 2G rule also applies to retail in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia. Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein want to exclude unvaccinated people from shopping from next Saturday. And in Hesse, 2-G access will be introduced from next week.

“A disaster for trade”

Many retailers are upset. “In the middle of the Christmas business, this is a disaster for retailers,” says Mareike Petersen, Managing Director of the Northern Trade Association. 2G is a kind of partial closure. Petersen believes that even those who have been vaccinated and recovered would be deterred. “Waiting times in front of the door do not necessarily promote the shopping mood.”

The Hessian trade association is also critical of the 2G regulation. “The controls mean an unbelievable amount of effort in the all-important Christmas business”, criticized President Jochen Ruths. The previous hygiene concepts have proven themselves, the trade is not a driver of infection.

HDE considers the rule to be illegal

The German Retail Association (HDE) resisted the nationwide introduction of the 2-G rule until the end. Such a regulation is illegal, wrote the HDE President Josef Sanktjohanser in a letter to the still-Chancellor Angela Merkel and the likely next head of government Olaf Scholz.

2G in retail violates the freedom of occupation and violates the general principle of equality. “Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, trade has brought significant special sacrifices, although at no point could it be described as a driver of incidence,” said the HDE President in the letter. Rather, numerous studies have shown that the risk of infection in retail is marginal. Introducing 2G in large parts of the trade is therefore “disproportionate”. However, the association could not complain, the affected companies would have to do that, said an HDE spokesman

Is sales falling?

The retailers are worried about the Christmas business. “Frequencies and sales could collapse with 2G,” warns HDE managing director Stefan Genth. The restrictions could lead to a significant drop in sales of up to 50 percent and threaten the existence of some retailers, according to the association.

The association is still sticking to its forecast that sales in November and December should increase by two percent. Last year, the retail sector suffered sales losses of an average of 600 million euros per day of sales in the period around Christmas and in January due to the second lockdown from December 16.

Fear of distortion of competition

Some business representatives are already speaking of discrimination against retailers. “The regulation will again distort competition in stationary retail,” complains Kisten Schoder-Steinmüller, President of the Hessian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “While basic suppliers are open to all customers, assortment providers are only allowed to open under 2G and with a high level of control effort.”

The first retailers were already demanding new state aid. “If there are further losses, we also have to talk about new state aid for retailers,” said Frank Geisler, manager of the sporting goods chain Intersport, in “Spiegel”. He actually sees 2G as a “partial shutdown”.

Weak first weekend in Advent

On the first weekend in Advent, the retailers saw poor business. The HDE announced that only one in five of the companies surveyed were satisfied. Business was particularly weak in the fashion stores. In contrast, the industry association reported positive impulses from the household and toy trade. And it is likely that online retailing will benefit from the 2G restrictions. “Constantly new corona restrictions for stationary trade will certainly lead to a shift in sales in online trade,” speculates an HDE spokesman.

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