The government’s new restrictive measures do not prohibit visiting specialty and household goods stores when the visit is about procuring necessities, which the law allows. The law also allows collecting purchases made through electronic channels. The Finnish Commerce Federation considers this order important, since many specialty goods shops hold a significant position in how well citizens’ everyday lives work. The question of competition neutrality is also related to the matter. However, because necessity has not been defined more clearly, it is clear that the decision to restrict movement will affect potential customers so that they are even less likely to visit specialty goods stores.
“The Finnish Commerce Federation considers it necessary that the government makes a decision on the support to be directed towards companies suffering due to the restrictions on movement. Like our prime minister has publicly said, companies must be reimbursed for the monetary losses caused by the restrictions. Support must be given quickly to those who need it and the companies entitled to it,” says Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.
The criteria for the costs support related to lockdown must take into account, better than before, the situations and needs of commerce sector companies. Furthermore, the tax administration must grant deferred amortisation for taxes in payment arrangements so that the financial distress of companies suffering from the restrictions on movement does not worsen due to the strict conditions of the arrangement.
The Finnish Commerce Federation is of the opinion that the obligation to wear a mask, defined by the authorities, does clarify the situation. Last autumn, the Federation gave its own strong recommendation to wear a mask. The mandatory use of masks decreed by the government is an anticipated decision and it reinforces the commerce sector’s message – wear a mask!
Stores maintain good hygiene and have intensified their cleaning. Different methods, such as announcements, posters, info displays and floor stickers are used to remind customers of safety measures. People are urged to maintain a distance of two metres to others and customers have been provided the opportunity to wash hands and use hand sanitiser. The measures have been effective and stores have not been a source of any extensive chains of infections.
The Finnish Commerce Federation is of the opinion that the collecting of deliveries can be done safely and in a distributed manner in specialty and household goods stores. By enhancing the collecting of deliveries, such as the Click and Collect service, the number of people at the package automatons can be decreased and overloading the capacity of the post and other distribution services can be avoided.
Shoplifting, petty theft and threat of violence are a growing problem for the commerce sector. Monitoring how well people follow the mask rule may increase the number of threatening situations even more.
In shoplifting and threat situations, commerce sector companies need, in addition to their own systematic safety work, the police’s support to ensure the safety of the personnel, customers and property. Monitoring the age limit of mandatory mask use seems to be difficult in stores – even impossible. Additionally, customers who claim to have a medical reason for not wearing a mask cannot be barred from the stores.
“Commerce cooperates actively with the authorities, but the monitoring of mask use cannot be delegated to stores. It is important that the authorities are unambiguously responsible for monitoring the movement restrictions and mandatory mask use,” Kiviniemi emphasises.
Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)50 511 3189, mari.kiviniemi(at)kauppa.fi
Simo Hiilamo, Director, Public Policy and Advocacy at the Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)50 350 7564, simo.hiilamo(at)kauppa.fi
Lauri Kulonen, Advisor, commerce sector’s COVID-19 measures, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)40 419 9309, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wear a mask! – The Finnish Commerce Federation’s store material is now available for all companies. (in Finnish)
COVID-19 instructions for commerce sector companies are available here.