The government’s planned decisions on the restriction of movement would affect the operations of 3,800 specialty and household goods trades in the Helsinki and Turku regions. These companies employ a total of 15,600 employees. In addition, the restrictions would have an impact on the operating conditions of other companies in the service sector. The companies operating in the specialty goods trade have already suffered from regulatory restrictions and recommendations and the change in consumer behaviour caused by the pandemic.
“Several companies struggle with profitability and some have had to end their operations. If the restrictions on movement are implemented, the companies that suffer due to the restrictions should receive immediate support,” says Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.
The restrictions on movement affecting the specialty and household goods trades have the same effect as the closure of restaurants.
“Therefore, it is essential that companies that suffer due to the restrictions are compensated for the negative financial effects in the same way as restaurants are compensated for closures,” Kiviniemi says.
Other support measures in addition to the closure compensation should also be implemented. The Finnish Commerce Federation proposes that the government reinstates the tax administration’s temporary payment arrangements by lowering penal interest. The tax administration should also grant deferred amortisation for taxes on existing payment arrangements to companies suffering due to the restrictions.
Disadvantages due to the distortion of competition neutrality must be minimised
Restrictions on movement must seek to minimise the disadvantages created for trade by all available means and ensure the equal treatment of companies. It is important that the legislation clarifies as clearly as possible those situations where it is deemed acceptable to go to shops. The legislative proposal has only loosely outlined the essential items for everyday life, and they are open to interpretation.
The restrictions on movement would weaken the business conditions for specialty and household goods trade companies that sell supplies and products not considered essential to everyday life and living. The restrictions would distort the competition neutrality of commerce sector companies if the sales of non-essential goods is allowed to continue in other stores alongside necessary products. It would also be problematic to limit the freedom to exercise economic activity by limiting product selection.
The impacts of distorted competition neutrality must be taken into account when deciding on compensation for the negative financial effects on trade companies.
“Companies need to know what lies ahead in order to plan and adapt their operations,” says Kiviniemi.
Collecting orders from shops reduces congestion and contacts
It is important to avoid congestion in order to reduce the number of contacts. Therefore, shopping should be done in a decentralised manner, such as by collecting online orders directly from a specialty goods trade. The Click and collect service reduces the number of people in shops and at parcel pick-up points.
“Collecting orders from a shop is especially vital for small shops in the commerce sector that do not have the resources to organise delivery services within a short time frame and whose freedom to exercise an economic activity is being seriously restricted,” says Simo Hiilamo, Director, Public Policy and Advocacy at the Finnish Commerce Federation.
Pick-up from a shop can be organised as safely as pick-up from courier companies, as retailers will continue their systematic work to enable safe transactions and work in stores.
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