Bulgaria: Non-Food Retail Chains Are Broke, Brace for Civil Disobedience

Major non-food chains warn they do not rule out "staging protests and various forms of civil disobedience" if they are not allowed to open - without an "artificial distinction based on stores' overall shopping area."

The warning is issued in an open letter signed by Technomarket, Technopolis, Zora, Praktis, Mr. Bricolage, Aiko, Carpet Max, Praktiker, HomeMax, TechMart, Domko, Decathlon, Furniture Videnov, Jysk, SportDepot, Matstar, Mania. They insist that the ban imposed should be suspended or applied to all sectors on equal footing.

If the epidemic situation requires it, everything should be locked down.

The Modern Trade Association (CMT) has backed the group's request adding that measures aimed at limiting the activity of large non-food stores should not be extended after April 11, 2021, as well as for large malls and retail shopping centres to be open from April 12, not May 1. According to the CMT, the entire retail sector is in a dire situation.

In the current situation, some businesses are more favoured than others owing to their smaller shopping area. The question arises how it was calculated that a 300-square-metre store can work and is safe, and a store with an area of 301 sq.m. must be closed and poses infection risks, the letter said. They note that the products they offer together with foodstuffs are actually the essentials.

So, when they are closed, customers head to other, smaller outlets that successfully sell the same range of goods. This leads not only to a crowding of people, but also to unfair competition, the retail chains complain. They warn that this measure is doing extremely great damage and therefore expect adequate support from the state. Steps in the right direction, they say, would be the exemption from...

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