Covid-19, trade conflicts and Brexit. This unholy trinity has turned global shipping container trade upside down. That chaos is on its way to our store shelves, resulting in shortages and increased prices.
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In the Netherlands, a curfew will be in place from 8.30 p.m. Friday, while in Germany, customers are no longer welcome with a mask made from textile. Which coronavirus measures still apply to retailers in Europe today?
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Amazon and the "Big Five" publishers have been accused of colluding on keeping ebook prices artificially high. The case was filed by the same law firm that brought Apple to its knees ten years ago when it was guilty of similar practices.
Belgian bankrupt outlet chain Mega World has not found a buyer after all: the bid of the only candidate, a German retailer, turned out not to be sufficient.
Wildberries, Russia's largest online retailer, has just launched in Germany. The company is also looking to expand into other European countries.
Zalando now charges a "distance fee" to customers in the Benelux for packages coming from further afield. The free shipping trendsetter is retracing its steps, and others will follow.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is already threatening to torpedo a possible takeover deal between Carrefour and Canadian Couche-Tard under the guise of "food sovereignty".
Farmers blame the big chains for getting too little for their produce, but the supermarkets refute this. A Dutch agricultural economist nuances the discussion. "Nobody in the chain earns excessively," states Willy Baltussen of Wageningen University.
In the Netherlands, the lockdown is extended by three weeks. Non-food representative INretail insists on substantial additional support measures.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has agreed to a complete makeover of the Champs-Elysées. More green and fewer cars, that is the core of the ambitious plan.
A Belgian shopping centre is introducing a navigation tool based on Augmented Reality (AR), which shows shoppers the quickest way to the shops. The app will be tested extensively in the coming weeks.
EDC Retail, owner of erotica webshops Pabo and EasyToys, will receive a financial injection. The company wants to use the funds to grow into a global player and also announces a merger with Eropartner Distribution.
Sending orders online to the UK is a lot more expensive and complex after the Brexit. Some European online retailers are therefore discontinuing their deliveries to the country.
For the first time, Amazon has bought its own aircraft: 11 used passenger Boeings are converted into cargo aeroplanes. The e-commerce giant is also flying to Europe: in Germany, Amazon Air is now leasing two planes.
The current pandemic offers new opportunities for innovation: e-commerce is becoming more personal and social, while the shopping experience is becoming digital and contactless. Innovation can move fast, as the past year has proven.
COVID-19 represented an unprecedented obstacle for the retail sector in 2020. But what is the concrete impact of the crisis? What can we learn from it, and will we remain under the spell of the Covid story in 2021? Four retail experts reflect, and look ahead.