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'Disappointing' start to summer sales blamed on coronavirus measures
Retailers in Belgium have reported a "particularly disappointing" start to the summer sales, which began on Saturday after a one-month postponement.
Shopkeepers had planned substantial discounts from day one of the sales to attract customers and clear surplus stocks, which are larger than usual due to the coronavirus shutdown.
But the announcement last week that shopping must, again, be done alone and with a 30-minute maximum time limit per store has reportedly kept customers away.
"Saturday, the first day, has been particularly disappointing," said Daniel Cauwel, president of interprofessional employers' federation SDI.
"With a rare exception in certain districts and shopping centres, our members are reporting a particularly gloomy and disappointing day, very far from the crowds on which they were counting."
Belgium's summer sales normally begin on 1 July, but the retail sector asked for this year's to be postponed by a month.
Non-essential stores reopened on 11 May and retailers were concerned that the sales would happen too soon, not allowing them to make up any of the loss from the shutdown period.
In Belgium, sales periods are mandated by law, and in the month before the sales, shops are not legally allowed to offer discounts.