The German government is widely expected to announce an extension of its lockdown for retailers of “non-essential” items as well as fitness studios and restaurants through Feb. 14, according to leading German media. The second German lockdown started on Dec. 16 and was supposed to end on Jan. 11, but it was then stretched until the end of January.
A few days ago, citing a likely drop of 70 percent in their sales in January because of the current Covid-related retail lockdowns, the three major executives in the German sports retail trade asked the government in an “open letter” to recognize sports such as home fitness, cycling, running and outdoor sports and the related product categories as “essential and relevant for the people’s health.”
They said in their joint letter that they support the government’s decision to close gyms and “non-essential” retail shops in general, but they want to be treated as retailers of essential products in the manner of food stores, pharmacies and opticians. They pointed out that the closure of sporting goods stores is limiting the population’s access to certain sports that are good for their health.
The three executives are André Weiner, CEO of Decathlon Germany; Alexander von Preen, CEO of Intersport Germany; and Hans-Hermann Deters, CEO of Sport 2000 Germany. Retailers and trade associations in other countries have made similar observations and requests, but no government has responded positively.
Imitating a former decision by the Austrian government, the Swiss one has decided to close all non-essential retail stores including those selling sporting goods, but it has granted exceptions for flower shops and home improvement stores. Quoting one of its retail members, Roman Oberholzer of Och Sport, the Swiss sporting goods retailers’ federation, Asmas, argued that buying safe and warm clothing and footwear for children to play in the snow is more essential than offering flowers or purchasing screws or garden gnomes.