The corona pandemic affects everyone and hits some particularly hard, such as toy retailers. Whether large store or small shop: in the past three months there has been a complete standstill in the shops. Some kept their heads above water – sometimes, sometimes less successfully – with delivery services or click-and-collect offers. Most federal states now have a shopping system linked to the incidence value. That doesn’t go far enough for the toy trade, the Federal Association of Toy Retailers is “stunned by the Corona decisions.
When all else fails, sad humor can help: "Numerous toy retailers are going to the dogs," warns Wieland Sulzer, Chairman of the German Association of Toy Retailers (BVS). The drama is that the forced closure does not even save lives. Safe shopping is possible every day and has never been dangerous. “If the lockdown – as planned – is extended until after Easter, deaths in the city centers will increase. But at least the retailer can 'die with dignity' since he can get an appointment with the hairdresser.”
The lockdown applies until March 28th. That was decided by the federal and state governments at the last Corona summit. After all, a light flickers at the end of the tunnel: Basically, shopping is also possible in local shops. However, under special conditions that dictate the incidence values. On the one hand, customers can be granted admission by appointment, and if the incidence falls below 50, regulated mini-customer flows are even allowed.
Three months of lockdown - and no end in sight
For the smallest of the small toy shops, the measurement of square meters is practically no different from appointment shopping. More than one, maybe two customers at most, can frolic in front of the shelves in those federal states where the seven-day incidence is already below 50. At most, the big shops could benefit - provided that customers dare to shop.
The federal and state governments have not decided to open the shops, instead there is the now famous DIN A4 rule sheet, which specifies the small-step path out of the lockdown. That doesn't go far enough for the Federal Association of Toy Retailers. There one speaks of an "incomprehensible confusion matrix" and a delay of the "long overdue opening". From an economic point of view alone, that may already be true: The BVS states that the past three months of the lockdown have cost the approximately 3.000 stationary toy retailers together more than 300 million euros, meaning the loss of income.
But according to the Federal Association, there are no problems with hygiene safety either: “While other European countries have long since reopened their retail trade despite significantly higher incidence figures, the Chancellor and Prime Ministers continue to ignore the findings of the Robert Koch Institute, professional association for trade and Goods Logistics (BGHW), Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and hygiene experts, according to which shopping in retail does not pose an increased risk of infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus," says the BVS.
BVS Managing Director Steffen Kahnt criticizes that the politicians have ignored studies and statements on safety. "The price for this is not only paid by the closed companies on site, but also by every citizen. If companies disappear, municipalities will soon have to make do with less tax revenue. In the future, there will be further cuts in schools, kindergartens and swimming pools due to the devastating forced closures.”
In an open letter, several toy retailers, including Rofu, Vedes, Galerie Karstadt-Kaufhof and Smyths Toys, wrote to the Chancellor and the country leaders. The reasons mentioned were given: existing safety when shopping even before an incidence of 50 is reached, no increased risk of infection, loss of income in the millions and costs that arise for the general public.
The stationary toy retailer suffers twice in Corona times, maybe three or four times: Due to the tough lockdown in recent months and now because of the opening regulations, which will probably bring little walk-in customers especially to the small shops. And then through the strengthening of online retail, which could keep other customers from visiting the store in the future as well. Anyone who does not go along with web shopping now, has no capacity or is afraid of the costs, could be left out in the long term.
The indirect, long-term consequences of the corona pandemic are by no means fully predictable. Just as the development of the infection does not seem predictable: the number of cases is currently stagnating, often with upward spikes. The R-value is stubbornly hanging around 1, which indicates increasing numbers. The vaccinations are making slow progress, as is the tests. Nothing is over by far - a third wave hovers like a sword of Damocles over the stationary toy retailers. At best, the announced vaccination campaign via resident doctors gives hope. It starts in April, probably at least. The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians calculates that by August almost 70 million German citizens could be vaccinated.
For the toy trade, this means once again: persevere.
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