Masks obligation keeping customers out of Amsterdam, Rotterdam stores, retailers say
Stores in shopping areas in Rotterdam and Amsterdam saw "substantially" fewer customers over the past days, compared to the same period last week, Detailhandel Nederland said to AD after speaking to shopkeepers. According to the umbrella organization for retailers, this is not only due to the heatwave, but also because of the obligation to wear a face mask in some public spaces that the two cities implemented last week.
Detailhandel Nederland does not have any hard figures yet, but said that shops reported fewer customers. "The obligation to wear a mask seems to keep people away," director Hester Duursema said to AD. "It seems that people only go to the store when they need really urgent supplies." Clothing- and shoe stores in particular are suffering from this, she said.
The retailers' organization also raised concerns about the enforcement of the mask obligation. "Shopkeepers and employees are trained to be hospitable, not to be a cop. Moreover, many shopkeepers don't feel comfortable to enter into a conversation with a customer, which is understandable given the reactions of some customers," Duursema said. "We have also received a first report about aggression around face masks in the shops. We assume that more will follow. What makes it complicated is that at first it was said that masks make no sense and now they might make sense after all. That is difficult to explain to customers."
While the masks experiment in Amsterdam and Rotterdam is still in its early stages, Detailhandel Nederland is already against a national introduction of this measure. "A national measure would be really disproportionate. You cannot compare a shopping area in Friesland with the center of Rotterdam," Duursema said.