Protecting shops and closing shelves, collateral damage from SME suppliers

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The reconfinment announced at the end of October 2020 is intended to be more flexible than the first, in March 2020. Some businesses continue to open, or have adapted their business, notably through Click and Collect. Supermarkets and large distributions continue to operate, but also need to adapt their design. Indeed, some shelves close, at the decision of the Prime Minister, Jean CASTEX. A decision that makes small and medium-sized suppliers cringe… Especially given the time of year at which this decision takes place.

Businesses impacted, between solidarity and misunderstanding

For businesses, the announcement of the reconfination was not good news. After several months marked by a halt in activity, local businesses in particular were relying on the end-of-year holidays to sell and revive their business. The four-week confinement, which runs until 1 December at a minimum, does nothing to help. In addition, the Prime Minister has asked supermarkets to close certain shelves, which are considered non-essential. Among them, the culture shelves (books, games), the shelves dedicated to appliances, flowers, jewelry, or even the arts of the table. By asking supermarkets to do this, the Prime Minister wants to limit the number of visitors to stores. He wants customers to come to the shops only to make so-called basic purchases, such as food or hygiene products.

Supermarket food trade
In supermarkets, only essential shelves continue to sell.

For the FEEF, this decision is incomprehensible. Admittedly, this supports local businesses that cannot maintain their activity, not being allowed to open during confinement. But according to the FEEF, suppliers and small and medium-sized producers are also affected by the closure of these shelves. Indeed, while the shops stop their activity, the production plants, on the other hand, continue to work. This phenomenon has a serious impact on the employment and economic activity of small and medium-sized enterprises. The latter are in fact part of the economic fabric and are found in all regions of France. Thus, between local businesses and SMEs affected by ministerial decisions… The FEEF wants to sound the alarm, and find solutions so that no actor is harmed. This period is indeed crucial to the future of many companies in the country.

Christmas holidays, a pivotal period for the economy to the conditional

Scheduled until December 1, 2020, the second containment may well be extended if sanitary conditions do not improve. This is a delicate situation for businesses, with an impossible projection, given the day-to-day development of the situation. In mid-November, the Government may decide to ease further containment measures for some professionals, but as December approaches and the end-of-year celebrations… The heart of business is not at the party. An unprecedented end to the year, one year after the discovery of COVID-19 in China. The Christmas period is for many the most profitable, the most important of the year. Some businesses offer online shopping, or develop the Click and Collect in order to continue selling without receiving customers, but many have not yet passed this milestone.

Despite the aid proposed to support businesses affected by this new context, the FEEF and local businesses want more flexibility. Among the most affected are self-employed craftsmen, but also professionals in catering, hospitality and tourism. Despite the strict sanitary measures applied in these establishments, they are unable to continue their activities. The announcement of the closure measures of certain shelves, such as culture,has many professionals reacting. They disagree with the decisions. A decision that should, once again, succeed to e-commerce giants, such as a certain Amazon…

Sources:

Press release – FEEF – Closure of non-food shelves in mass distribution. Strong concerns and misunderstanding of SME suppliers – 2 November 2020

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