COVID19: Retail sector reopens with discounts

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Shops reopened on Monday after a month in lockdown to contain coronavirus with retailers slashing prices in a move to cover lost income.

in comments to Philenews, general manager of Nicosia Mall George Georgiou said shops in the mall have slashed prices from 30-70% to win back customers after malls had to close before Christmas, the busiest time of the year.

“This is retailers last chance to make the most of what’s left of the winter season to sell their stock,” said Georgiou.

He noted that malls and shops have been disinfected and prepared all areas to welcome customers in a safe environment.

Georgiou said a majority of shops had survived the prolonged shutdown.

“In clothing and footwear, we had no losses because shopkeepers had already bought their goods. We expect by the end of the year 10% -15% of companies will not be able to make ends meet.”

The small shopkeepers’ association POVEK said its members have launched sales campaigns ranging from 20 to 70%, close to cost price.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, the general secretary of the association, Stephanos Koursaris, said shopkeepers are optimistic.

He said that consumers will definitely benefit from the drop in prices.

Koursaris said with the winter season ending, retailers with stock left on the shelves need to sell.

“Businesses have no other option than to offer their products at the lowest possible prices so they can cover their operating and other costs, and also be in a position to bring new stock for the next season.”

However, despite the re-opening, Koursaris said small shopkeepers were struggling make ends meet with their biggest problem being rents owed to landlords.

“The government’s decision for shopkeepers to suspend payment of 70% of their rent for January and February, to be paid in instalments by next year, is not satisfactory,” argued Koursaris.

He said the state should subsidise 40% of the rent with tenants paying 40% and landlords shouldering the remaining 20%.

Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides took to Twitter to welcome the retail sector opening, urging strict adherence to social distancing.

“The retail sector is opening today. We want other sectors of the economy to open sooner and more employees to return to work.

“Success will depend on whether we comply with the hygiene measures so as to avoid a new catastrophic increase in cases.”

Some 80,000 are employed in the retail sector.

Smaller shops were fully stocked having been unable to carry out their January sales and were now competing with larger outlets.