In the coalition agreement presented on Wednesday by the VVD, D66, CDA and CU, there is one rule about it. But that is immediately good for a lot of fuss. Because it means that we will soon be able to drink alcohol in thousands of extra places.
“We allow mixing formulas by regulating ‘blurring’ in shopping areas in a responsible way while strictly monitoring alcohol abuse,” the coalition agreement states.
This means that shops can also become a bit of a catering facility in addition to what they already sell. A beer at the nail salon, a glass of wine at the book launch, a wine tasting in the cheese shop and more of what has come to be called ‘blurring’.
In other words: combining catering with the retail function or with culture or services such as a hairdresser or beautician.
The VVD has been trying to make this possible for years. It can help to ensure that the operation of, for example, a shop in the city center remains attractive. After all, with the fierce competition from online shops, the middle class must do more with the ‘experience’. And lure people into the shopping street.
“Other store concepts are needed,” says Paul te Grotenhuis, spokesperson for INretail, a trade association for small business owners. “Which render better.” The point here is that there is more to experience in the shops, and the catering industry fits in with this, according to the trade association.
He does not expect to worry about alcohol abuse in a bookstore or at the hairdresser. “The shoppers are decent.”
Getting out of control
Director Wim van Dalen of the knowledge institute for alcohol policy STAP does not believe in that. “We seem to be nagging, but this is getting out of hand. Soon, free wine and beer will be served in the supermarket. To increase the atmosphere and to promote those products.”
The Central Food Bureau (CBL) does not rule out the possibility that supermarkets will do this. “But it’s not something we lobbied for.”
Van Dalen believes that blurring also goes directly against the government’s three-year-old prevention agreement to ensure that people are more aware of alcohol. “Each year 8300 people die as a result of improper alcohol use.”
In his view, people who do their shopping will soon be tempted too much and may find it difficult to control themselves. “And children are faced with consuming alcohol in many more places.” The CBL also says that blurring is not in line with the prevention agreement.
According to director Hans van Tellingen of retail research agency Strabo, offering the middle class a drink is a powerful instrument to ensure more turnover.
“Blurring means people stay in the store longer. And longer in the store means they spend more.”
Trying to keep customers in the business for a long time is, according to him, the best weapon against the competition from online stores. “A long receipt is the strength of the physical store. Mainly because of this, they still make more profit than web stores.”
Wine while fitting
According to Van Tellingen, coffee is now fully accepted in bookshops. “The bookstore has also become a café. Don’t forbid that glass of wine there either.” He also does not think that many shops will also sell alcohol.
“It works especially if it is offered. Think of a furniture store where you often spend a long time and make a large purchase. Or in a fashion store where your partner gets a drink when you are trying on suits. That’s fine, right?”
The retail service organization Euretco also sees it that way. Euretco has 1500 independent entrepreneurs with 2200 stores, including the chains of DIY store Hubo, bookstore Libris, Intersport and home furnishings stores. When selling kitchens, for example, they are more than happy to serve a drink.
“There is often cooking in the shops, demonstrations are given, now you can also offer a drink with it,” says the spokesperson.
The organization even sees an opportunity for sports shops. “It would be nice to create a winter sports/aprés ski atmosphere with a drink.” But whether it will happen remains to be seen.
“The standards and values of the brands and franchisors (Intersport, Runners World) also play a role here. They often do not see sport and alcohol as a match.”
This is less of a problem at bookshops. Now a lecture or book presentation with accompanying drinks is often only held after closing time or in a closed part of the store because it must be a private event to serve alcohol. “It would now offer opportunities to do that during opening hours.”