The city center is coming back to life – and if it weren’t for the mouth-nose protection masks on many of the guards, it would have been a normal, fairly quiet tuesday afternoon in spitalgasse. Quiet, but better than monday, when the rain with icy cold kept people from strolling, as sven lotz and heiko wend unanimously report. The two are responsible for the two large department stores on the edge of the city center: heiko wend runs the wohrl store in ketschengasse, sven lotz the galeria karstadt-kaufhof in mohrenstrabe.
Both have just had time over the weekend to expand their sales areas: until saturday evening, only a maximum of 800 square meters could be made accessible to customers. Now everything is open again, and the sigh of relief can be heard formally by both of them through the phone. "Many people didn’t understand why only these 800 square meters on the first floor were available, says lotz. "We have a lot of space where the customers can spread out." But that was not allowed. If you wanted something from the assortment on the upper floors, you had to go to the salespeople. Of course, normal sales were not possible there, says lotz. "But it was better than nothing!"
Now 370 customers were allowed to be in the store at the same time and spread out over the three floors. "The department store" has even opened two of its three entrances. Customers are paid by turstehern via app. But 370 customers in the house at the same time "that’s something you first have to manage", says lotz. "This happens at best before a holiday."
Or on a sunday when sales are open, as they were in the past, heiko wend remembers. The wohrl branch does not have quite as much sales space as the department store on mohrenstrabe: 180 customers were allowed in. There are plastic cards at the entrance to ketschengasse; if there are none left, no more customers are allowed in. But wend doesn’t expect that to happen in the next few days.
For almost two weeks now, the big stores have been open. Even that they had to fight for. Initially, it had been a rule that stores with more than 800 square meters of floor space were not allowed to open at all. The hygiene concepts have now been tried and tested, and the mandatory masks for employees and customers have caused hardly any problems so far, says wend. "But normal selling, as we were used to – going to the customer, helping in the jacket, staking out changes – all that is not possible now, because of the distances. It takes some getting used to."
Not only the procedures are still far from normal, he says. Also the customers are not yet coming back to the stores as the traders would like and need them to be. That’s why many stores currently have shortened opening hours: wohrl and C&A, for example, already close at 6 p.M.
C&A also had to restrict the sales area until monday. Now the business has somewhat normalized again, it says on tuesday from the branch in the spitalgasse. 135 customers have access; so that this can be checked, shopping bags are handed out at the entrance. Every child gets one, too, because it’s the heads that pay. Last week, a maximum of 35 people were allowed in, so we sometimes had to block them, tells one of the employees. Because in the five weeks that the stores had to remain closed, some children had grown considerably. "New basics were needed."
Next door, at S.Oliver, as of today, the opening hours will be shortened: from 5 p.M. Onwards, they will be closed. The clothing store was allowed to open two weeks ago, but customer traffic is still highest in the mornings and at lunchtime, says one of the sellers. It is noticeable that there is a lack of walk-in customers – day tourists hardly visit coburg at the moment. Shortened opening hours are not just a coburg phenomenon, says the retailer: in larger cities and shopping centers, too, many stores are currently reducing their opening hours because they simply lack customers.
To lure customers into the stores, retailers are offering discounts, some of them massive, as the signs in the displays and shop windows show. During the five weeks she was on leave, a lot of goods were left behind.