Despite relaxing of corona rules Bonn retail trade continues to suffer from pandemic

Bonn · The city of Bonn is coming back to life following the easing of some corona restrictions. Many shops are open and the large department stores are also preparing to release their entire sales areas. The retail association is nevertheless drawing a critical conclusion.

 The Löwenapotheke on the market square is one of the oldest chemists in Bonn. Renovations have been underway here in the past few months.

The Löwenapotheke on the market square is one of the oldest chemists in Bonn. Renovations have been underway here in the past few months.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

Inner city Bonn is gradually coming back to life. Many shops are open again and the big departments stores are also preparing to reopen all floors to customers in addition to the 800 m2 of sales space already available.

It remains to be seen which retailers will survive the corona crisis. One of the H&M stores on Remigiusstrasse has had to say goodbye and has permanently closed its doors. However, this closure has nothing to do with corona - it had already been announced last year and had been implemented even before the corona crisis began.

Many people have not been into the city centre for a while and so the closure of the branch - which had been there for a good ten years - has probably only just been noticed by some. A spokeswoman for the Swedish fashion chain told GA that the closure was due to declining sales.

It was not possible to find out who would move into the premises, which were once home to Bonn's oldest restaurant ‘Zum Bären’. The traditional restaurant - particularly popular as a meeting place for students and professors - had closed its doors for good in 2003 after more than 300 years.

Something has also been going on at the former Hörsch health food shop on the corner of Sternstraße and Vivatsgasse. The doors there had been locked for years, but the shelves and window displays were still well stocked for a long time - as if the business would continue at some point. At the beginning of March, the fashion boutique La Strada celebrated the opening of a new store following renovations - only to have to close again immediately afterwards. But the increasing easing of restrictions since this shutdown has meant that La Strada can now reopen its doors and is offering chic Italian fashion.

Tradesmen have also been busy for months at a shop on the other end of Sternstraße which is home to the Löwenapotheke, one of the oldest chemists in Bonn. An employee explained that the chemist plans to reopen soon with completely renovated and modernised rooms, which are now fully accessible to disabled visitors and pushchairs. The exact date has not yet been confirmed.

The Manufaktur store shares a similar fate to the La Strada boutique. It has moved into the former premises of the Gerry Weber clothes store on the market square and sells high-quality, everyday items such as kitchen utensils and home textiles. The store had barely opened when it had to close again due to corona. But now the customers have returned.

Strict hygiene rules apply in all shops: Customers are only allowed to enter the shops wearing facemasks and a dispenser for hand disinfection is available at most entrances. In addition, only a limited number of customers are allowed to browse the shops' goods at any one time, depending on the size of the trading premises.

Despite the loosening of the rules, the Retail Association of Bonn Rhein-Sieg Euskirchen (EHV) is taking a rather critical view of the situation for many traders. Although the number of visitors to city centres has increased, few purchases are being made, and the popularity of shopping that was hoped for by retailers has not yet been experienced, according to Jannis Vassiliou, Managing Director of the EHV.

“The retail trade is under acute threat - not only in the region, but throughout Germany. With it, thousands of jobs and livelihoods are at stake,” stressed Vassiliou. “We welcome the reopening of museums and playgrounds, but what we need now is a revitalisation of city centres and this can only be achieved by opening up the restaurant trade”.

In a letter to Joachim Stamp, Deputy Prime Minister of the State, and Andreas Pinkwart, Minister of Economic Affairs in NRW, the EHV therefore called for the immediate opening of the catering sector whilst complying with strict hygiene and safety measures. Restaurants will be allowed to open again from Monday. According to Vassiliou, it is all the more important to support local retailers: “On behalf of all retailers, we would like to call on you to buy locally instead of ordering from large online suppliers”.

(Original text: Lisa Inhoffen, Translation: Caroline Kusch)

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