Many people did not walk in our shopping streets last week. Something that is of course good for reducing corona infections, but not so good for the turnover and sales of our retailers. There were already some negative reports from independent retailers, chain stores and shopping centers.
The Inspector conducted a survey in small and slightly larger stores.
No appointments in advance
Katty Plevoets has a cat specialty shop in the trendy Lange Koepoortstraat in Antwerp, The Catshop. She notices that customers do not make an appointment in advance, so she waits at the door of her store. “The door is open here and you hope that customers will come by and ask if they can make an appointment and can come in. Making an appointment in advance, that just doesn’t work, there is still a barrier to doing that.”
Katty points out that many small local self-employed people already have a webshop: “You can also buy online from local traders, our web shops are open 24/7 and that way you support the local retailer”.
The clothing stores groan under this system. At the large chains they are still waiting for the weekend, next week they will decide whether they should close temporarily. But there are also smaller stores where it does work. Hanne Pinoy owns Amorie ladies’ boutique in the shopping city of Roeselare. She knows the taste of her customers through and through and can still attract them to her store with personal offers and gifts.
“Last weekend we organized feel-good days and every customer received a bunch of tulips. People thought that was very pleasant, especially because we can give them a very personal service during this period. We also try to increase the number of appointments during the week by to get started with social media and to show online what novelties are in the store “.
Served customers at the door
How are things in the bike shops? The past days the weather was warm, the coming days it will be cooler but it will often remain dry and therefore ideal cycling weather. Brecht Bobbaers has bicycle shop Allo Vélo in Zutendaal.
“It was quite busy with us,” says Brecht Bobbaerts. “Customers could make an appointment online and that was very well used. But of course you also sporadically have customers or tourists who have unexpected breakdowns on the way, such as a flat tire. They suddenly drop in and that is a difficult exercise. We try them. then to help before or after the other appointments. For small problems we even helped customers outside the door. “
Few impulse purchases
The Inspector also consulted the furniture stores. Gaverzicht is one such example, the self-proclaimed furniture paradise in the South of West Flanders. A fairly large store that was well prepared for appointment shopping, but they also feel it in their sales.
Dominiek Derycke of Meubelen Gaverzicht: “With us, shopping by appointment goes quite smoothly. Customers can make an appointment online, by telephone or at the door. Of course we sell an item that is an investment asset, so I think people are more likely to make an appointment for this. What we do see is that impulse purchases, such as decoration, are selling a little less at the moment “.