Malls prepare for return to normality, traders not expecting crowds

Ülemiste shopping center
Ülemiste shopping center Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Many individual stores in major shopping centers have prepared for Monday's reopening for a whole week. Even though sales in e-stores have grown significantly, traders say it doesn't compensate for loss of profits from retail sales.

Shopping malls, which had been closed since March 27, as part of the government's coronavirus emergency situation measures, reopen on Monday, May 11. Those stores and eateries in malls wishing to reopen must provide disinfectants to customers and ensure the 2+2 rule.

Baltika group clothing stores were alive with activity already on Thursday. Clothes that have been tried on will be steamed, the sales manager of Baltika group Brigitta Kippak told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera. Nädal", adding that the chain tries to clean as many fitting rooms and surfaces as possible.

The chain sees steaming all clothes feasible, as experience from Latvian and Lithuanin stores proved that no crowds will gather with the reopening. This also means that turnover is not comparable with pre-crisis period.

"Turnover remains at 25-30 percent in various stores and I believe it will be the same for Estonia. In Latvia, stores have remained open at all times, except at weekends, and we can talk about 10-15 percent there. It has been silent here, people have not been able to shop. Maybe 30, maybe 35 percent," Kippak said.

She added that the turnover of Baltika's e-store had increased 44 percent in April. "The percentage is good, but the sum it is very little compared to what we lost," Kippak said.

Sports goods retailer Rademar set up disinfection points in the latter half of the previous week. Rademar has ensured masks and gloves for its employees and plans to regularly disinfect surfaces that customers touch more often, such as shopping baskets, payment terminals and fitting rooms, Rademar facility manager Lea Kiilaspää said.

Turnover of Rademar e-store increased eightfold while the malls were closed. "Was the e-store ready? Definitely not for an eightfold increase. When we saw that shopping centers are likely to be closed, we took into account that we could manage a twofold increase," Rademar e-store Marcus Juksar told "Aktuaalne kaamera. Nädal".

The major increase overloaded both storage facilities and human resources. "The facility where our orders are completed couldn't fit the goods and there wasn't enough room to employ more people," Juksar explained.

Many e-stores had supply problems, as no one could foresee increased demand, Tõnu Väät, manager of the Estonian E-Commerce Association, said. "Everything was blamed on Omniva, but others had problems, too. The amount of orders was so great that stores were in trouble."

"This crisis pointed out that many had postponed an e-store in Estonia. Now they had to look in the mirror and they probably weren't very happy. They needed it fast," he added.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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