Germany's new coronavirus restrictions for retailers are likely to lead to "endless queues" outside stores, which will do little to protect consumer health, Rewe Group chief executive Lionel Souque has said.
Souque was commenting in advance of the introduction of new measures yesterday afternoon, which saw the Merkel government maintain the current 10 square metre per person regulation in stores of up to 800 square metres, and stipulate a 20 square metres per person requirement in larger stores.
“If only 40 instead of 100 people are allowed to shop at the same time in a supermarket with 1,000 square meters of sales area, I fear endless queues before Christmas and chaotic situations in front of the supermarkets," commented Souque.
"This will not protect against infection or human health. The current regulation - one customer per 10 square meters of sales area - works well and very safely for our customers and employees."
The chef executive noted that sales in Rewe and Penny stores in the days leading up to Christmas tend to be 20% above average and place "particularly high demands" on store organisation and employees.
"A further restriction in the number of customers in the markets will hardly be manageable," he said.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the protection and safety of our customers and employees have been our top priority. Where the influx of customers makes this necessary, we restrict access to our stores. This is done both through entry and exit controls and by limiting the number of shopping carts and baskets."
'No Objective Reason'
Elsewhere, Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE), the German trade association, said that there was "no objective reason" for the government to introduce different measures for stores either above or below 800 square metres.
"The current hygiene concepts in retail have proven themselves in both small and large shops, supermarkets, department stores and shopping centres," said HDE general manager Stefan Genth. "The new regulations could also be counter-productive if queues form in front of the shops and in city centres."
Genth added that while the measures are a slight improvement on the previously-anticipated 25 square metres per person restrictions, it will likely put people off from going to stores, or lead to a return to stockpiling.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.