As of Wednesday, specialized shops and small retail sites can reopen their doors to visitors, but tight restrictions hit malls . Frustrated representatives of shopping malls have already reached out to the Rīga City Council to arrange that shops can go outside and sell their products, Latvian Television reported April 6.
As of April 7, shops that are located outside shopping malls may open, and outdoor sales are also allowed. However, in shopping malls, even pre-ordered items will not be allowed for pickup as it was before, and operation of telecommunications, tobacco and other shops that have been opened so far, is prohibited. Frustrated by the restrictions adopted by the government, some representatives of malls have already asked to arrange street trading. This means clothing and footwear will be sold outdoors.
Marketing director of Domina Shopping Iveta Zvaigzne-Ālere said: “We’ve invested a lot of money in a variety of security measures. What we get from the government is totally absurd decisions that promote unfair competition.”
For customers, too, the government’s decision to open the small shops but not to allow the big malls to operate, is met with confusion.
“Now spring is coming, it is warm, I have to walk around with my warm coat. I have nothing to wear. I don’t think it’s so crowded [in malls] that I can’t walk,” said customer Ārija.
Meanwhile, shop assistant Andrejs said: “There’s more space here. You can do more, keep your distance. OK, the little [stores] will have one, two [customers inside] what about the others? In the rain and snow. And [they will] get sick twice as fast. It seems illogical to me.”
Therefore, the shopping centers have come up a creative solution. If they can’t trade indoors, they’ll do it outside. Malls have asked for arrangement of street sales outside the shopping centers.
Street trading and fairs are allowed as of Wednesday. At the Domina Shopping mall, the street trade will be organized in a square outside the shop.
“We’ll have 20 spots, the biggest tenants coming with tents, with shoes, clothing, children’s goods, we know how hard it is to order and buy it on the Internet, without unnecessary stress and claptrap,” said Zvaigzne-Ālere.
A permit from the Riga City Council (RD) has not yet been received. Arrangement can take five days. When the green light is given, trading will be allowed for three consecutive days, then there will be a pause.
“Then you have to make a four-day pause, then you have to go to talk to RD again, and then you can do it again. Isn’t it absurd?” said Zvaigzne-Ālere.
The main argument of the government and experts is that shopping malls facilitate crowding, and people spend a lot longer in them when they go from shop to shop.