Joining Germany and Austria, the Swiss government has ordered the closure of all non-essential physical shops, starting on Monday, Jan. 18. The Swiss ban will last through the end of February, affecting all kinds of sports shops, many of which work a lot with winter sports. However, many Swiss ski resorts are still open, and the authorities are allowing click & collect as well as ski rentals and fitting because they are regarded as services.

Complaining about the new measures, which were announced on Jan. 14, Peter Bruggmann, president of the Swiss sporting goods retailers’ federation, Asmas, said that only accessories like ski helmets or goggles could be sold over the internet. He also noted that some ski dealers were announcing big price promotions to sell as much inventory as possible before the lockdown.

Bruggmann told us that the ski season has been very tough so far anyway, in spite of the fact that most of the ski facilities have been allowed to operate, in contrast with those in France and Italy, because the lack of foreign tourists due to travel restrictions has led to a drop of more than 25 percent in the number of ski passes. While retailers have run out of products for Nordic skiing, ski touring and snowshoeing, for which no ski facilities are needed, sales and rentals of alpine skis have dropped by between 30 and 35 percent.

Hotel bookings are already 90 percent below the level of last year in Switzerland. The new retail lockdown will affect sporting goods retailers even more during the critical period of the winter school holidays in February.

The situation is similar in Austria, where the ski facilities have been working since Dec. 24. Sport 2000 indicates that the lack of foreign tourists may lead local sporting goods retailers to lose about 40 percent of their turnover through March even if they are reopened. Their physical stores were closed by a governmental decree on Dec. 26. The ban was due to last until Jan. 25, but the government has just announced that it will last until Feb. 7 at least.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has indicated that it may be necessary to maintain the current nationwide retail lockdown until Easter, like in parts of the U.K. Both in Austria and Germany, retailers are asking for quick subsidies, similar to those being granted to operators of restaurants and hotels, to avoid many bankruptcies.

The ski facilities are still closed in France, but the French government has indicated that the ban may be lifted during the school holidays in February. The stores are still open in France. After Jan. 16, they will be allowed to stay open for two weeks only until 18:00 in connection with a countrywide curfew. It may be followed by a complete lockdown if the Covid situation doesn’t improve.