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Winter sales begin as shops attempt to clear excess stock
The winter sales in Belgium began on Monday, with shops planning substantial discounts to liquidate their excess stock and generate much-needed cashflow.
A quarter of retailers surveyed by the SNI trade union are expecting better results than in January 2021 - when the coronavirus restrictions required people to shop alone and limit their time in each store to 30 minutes.
This year, shopping is limited to groups of two people - with a maximum customer limit based on the size of each store, but no time limit. Many shopkeepers fear the consultative committee's latest restrictions will discourage some customers from hitting the sales.
"It has already been proven by various studies that shops are not a major source of infection," said the SNI. The union said that working from home and the rise of online shopping meant that physical stores were sitting on a large amount of excess stock this winter.
The sales - in January and the summer - are the only time of the year when shops can legally sell goods at a loss. Discounts tend to start at 30% - although some stores are going in at -50% from day one in a bid to clear the shelves.
The SNI is already calling for this year's winter sales to be extended beyond the planned 31 January end date. "The sales are a crucial moment for businesses to replenish the cashflow that they need to keep trading," the union added.