Commerce in crisis “Empty streets and shops. Turnover is falling, never seen such a thing”

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by Luca Orsi Winter sales with the handbrake on. Worse. “They are really blocked”, explains Marco Cremonini, president of Federmoda Ascom. The pedestrian street D’Azeglio, beyond the window, is semi-deserted. “Never seen such a thing”, confinement aside. For traders, it’s a freezing shower. Because “the first days of sales had gone well, there was a little hope”, comments Loreno Rossi, director of Confesercenti. The spike in infections has frozen the situation. They all agree. “We are in de facto, masked confinement,” sighs Giancarlo Tonelli, director of Ascom. The streets, especially during the week, …

by Luca Orsi

Winter sales with the handbrake on. Worse. “They are really blocked”, explains Marco Cremonini, president of Federmoda Ascom. The pedestrian street D’Azeglio, beyond the window, is semi-deserted. “Never seen such a thing”, confinement aside.

For traders, it’s a freezing shower. Because “the first days of sales had gone well, there was a little hope”, comments Loreno Rossi, director of Confesercenti. The spike in infections has frozen the situation.

They all agree. “We are in de facto, masked confinement,” sighs Giancarlo Tonelli, director of Ascom. The streets, especially on weekdays, are practically deserted. Center and periphery, it changes little.

“Restaurants and clubs operate a little on Friday and Saturday evenings – explains Rossi -. Only local customers. But with two evenings a week, we don’t do much.

A mix of factors caused the perfect storm to hit retail, restaurants and hospitality. And if to quarantines, isolations, restrictions, smart work, zero tourism and few students “add the fear of contagion, a negative feeling that makes many stay at home – comments Cremonini -, the bill is served”.

And that’s a big bill. Very dirty. Because the winter sales weigh heavily on the budget of a year. They can affect up to one fifth of the product. “And for the moment we are at 50-60% of the turnover expected over this period”, averages Tonelli. I run red, then, for hotels. “We are at an occupancy rate of around 10%”, calculates Rossi.

A report by Federmoda (in collaboration with Confcommercio and Iscom Group) puts the situation on paper. “64% of merchants surveyed reported a significant decline in cash inflows, 20% even recorded a drop of more than 40% compared to the same period of the not so bright 2021 year”.

Still, as mentioned, January 5 started off well. “In a dignified way”, tempers Cremonini. “And immediately after the Befana there was a bit of optimism. It lasted for a week”. Then, overnight, the city is depopulated. And now “we work very little, very little”.

For the clothing sector, in fact, this is the second lost winter season. “This year, we were hoping for a recovery in sales. Instead, we have full warehouses,” continues Cremonini.

“In a situation of falling consumption and competition from online sales – warns Rossi -, having missed two winter seasons, which give a significant turnover, is a bad move”. Pessimism? “No. Realism”.

The recipes speak for themselves. From an average expenditure of 120-130 euros, during the winter sales period, “this year we have already fallen below 100 euros”, calculates Cremonini.

Filed in January, we look to the future. According to experts, the pandemic wave should end in mid-March. “But the sales, which last 60 days, will already be over on the 5th,” warns Rossi. Who at that moment throws the ball forward: “Let’s hope for spring-summer”.

Cremonini looks towards a closer horizon. “In February – he says – clothing, footwear, fashion and sports stores will still have a wide assortment. And the discounts will be even more advantageous.

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