German retailers plead for state aid as stores close


BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s HDE retail association called on Wednesday for the government to give immediate state aid and tax relief to stop businesses going bust as stores closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, losing 7 billion euros ($7.70 billion) per week.

“Massive loss of turnover is destroying thousands of independent companies and millions of jobs,” HDE President Josef Sanktjohanser said in a statement that announced he had written to Chancellor Angela Merkel to ask for help.

HDE said the ordering of store closures would lead to a loss of sales of around 1.15 billion euros per day or 7 billion euros per week.

“Many small fashion retailers, shoe and sports shops, perfumeries, furniture retail and electronics stores as well as department stores are affected,” Sanktjohanser said.

He added that online retailers were also suffering as consumers reign in spending, seeing sales fall 20-30%.

Unless state aid is granted immediately, the HDE said many retailers faced insolvency, which would have a permanent impact on the country’s city centers and supplies to the population.

The HDE also demanded that the government immediately defer tax payments without interest as well as and social security contributions due in March and April.