COVID19: Sales season unable to save retail sector

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Despite the sales, Cyprus’ retail sector can’t shake off the coronavirus pandemic, as it has fallen victim to Omicron’s high transmissibility.

With many daily cases and close contacts being kept at home, retailers lose out on the winter sales season.

Despite avoiding a lockdown, Omicron has made many people sick with COVID-19 or are self-isolating as close contacts.

Retailers are reporting they have lost 50% of the sales season’s average turnover.

In comments to news site Stockwatch, the CEO of My Mall Limassol, Andreas Hadjimitsis, said the market is suffering as the new wave of infections forced people to stay home.

“When 20% of citizens are self-isolating, either because they have contracted the virus or because they are close contacts, no matter how attractive our sales campaigns are, they can only go so far,” said Hadjimitsis.

He noted that even people who don’t go into self-isolation are hesitant to shop because of the high number of COVID-19 cases within the community.

“People also know the sales campaigns all year round.”

Regarding the traffic in the malls from December, when the measures were tightened, Hadjimitsis said footfall has decreased by up to 50%, while for restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues that operate within the malls, the drop was over 60%.

“In the context of the difficult living conditions imposed by the pandemic crisis, many people do not have the financial comfort to spend on anything other than what is necessary.”

George Pissis, marketing manager of The Mall of Cyprus and The Mall of Engomi, noted that retailers were grateful to operate during the festive season, unlike Christmas 2020 when malls and department stores were shut down under COVID rules.

“Our turnover is below expectations due to restrictive measures, the spike in daily cases, but also the overall anxiety and adverse psychological effects the pandemic has had on people affecting the traffic at the malls, both during the holiday season and the sales period”.

General secretary of the Cyprus Retailers Association (PASYLE), Marios Antoniou, was concerned that the sector is “heading for uncharted waters”.

“We are repeating ourselves in saying we have finally reached the end of the pandemic, and then something happens, and everything is overturned, and we have to start from the beginning with protocols and new measures.

“We are far from the point we were in pre-coronavirus 2019.

“Why would people want to spend on clothes or shoes during the holidays or sales, since one way or another they are confined to their home”.