After a hard lockdown: Austria’s trade reopens

Status: 02/08/2021 2:31 p.m.

Austria’s dealers had to go into a tough lockdown for six weeks. Today they were allowed to open their shops again. They lure customers with massive discounts. But there is also criticism of the easing.

From Clemens Verenkotte,
ARD studio Vienna

Sabrina Putz opened her fashion store “Modapiu” even before the regular opening hours at 10 am. For the past month and a half, the family business in Vienna’s 13th district has kept its head above water with an online shop.

Clemens Verenkotte

Clemens Verenkotte
ARD studio Vienna

The retailer explains that customers had the clothes delivered to their homes to try on. As a family company, it is important to be remembered. “We are now really happy that we are open,” says Putz. Only two customers at a time are allowed to enter their shop and must wear FFP2 masks. These are the requirements that stipulate 20 square meters of sales area per customer and apply throughout the retail trade.

Big discounts

The small fashion store is significantly lowering the prices for winter coats, dresses and blouses. Plaster therefore expects a minus of 50 percent. Customers could still get a bargain at these discounts, she says. Under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t.

The Austrian trade association also speaks of “massive discounts”. Many stores would have to sell parts of their range at high discounts. For specialty stores like Michael Eipeldauer’s guitar workshop “Gold’n’Guitars” in Vienna, the lockdown weeks were very stressful. “My sales were practically zero. I had a few nice repairs and that gave me the peace of mind. But it was a business disaster,” he says.

“Big risk”

In the hairdressing shops, in addition to the FFP2 mask requirement, customers must have a negative corona test on hand, which must not be older than 48 hours. Free tests are offered in many Austrian cities and municipalities. The city administration announced that there is a real run on the corona test roads in Vienna today.

The FFP2 masks are sold in supermarkets at cost price of 5.59 euros for ten pieces. The decision of the government to reopen trade, certain services and schools under hygiene requirements remains controversial. In view of the high number of infections and low vaccinations, opening it is a “great risk,” said SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner. The seven-day incidence is currently 107 and has been almost unchanged for three weeks.

Austria reopens trade

Clemens Verenkotte, ARD Wien, 8.2.2021 · 12:39

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