Not all the EU countries have established the same rules concerning the sale of home appliances and consumer electronics: such products have been considered as “primary goods and services” in some countries so that the sales in consumer electronics specialist stores could continue under specific conditions, while in most countries, the shops were ordered to close.
Most of these products are an essential part of people’s everyday life, enabling private citizens but also professionals to store and prepare food, feel warm, wash dishes and clothes to ensure hygiene, but also to work from home and follow school lessons remotely.
Physical stores remain the backbone for the sale and advice of Technical Consumer Goods for consumers. They account in average over two-thirds of the appliance sales. It is not possible to serve and respond promptly to all consumer requests only through the online sales channel.
With the utmost respect for all health and safety regulations for all employees throughout the supply chain and consumers, the EuCER Council, a member of Eurocommerce, and APPLiA - Home Appliance Europe call on national authorities to allow the sale and services of such products in physical consumer electronics retailers under the necessary conditions to secure health and safety.
To ensure the security of all, a series of strict measures would be observed: among others, provision of masks and hand sanitisers to staff and customers, limited number of customers visiting simultaneously the shops in relation to the shop floor size, floor markings, trained staff stationed to maintain the required security distance, sanitising of payment terminals after each transaction, etc. The function of click & collect (with goods either delivered by staff outside the shop or placed directly in the boot of the customer’s car, eventually also with payment at the point of sale) should also be permitted in designated stores.
At the supply chain level, including at the logistics and distribution hubs, a similar set of measures would be taken too: e.g. information to employees on the importance of hand hygiene and social distancing to reduce the transmission of the virus, disinfection of highly frequented areas and surfaces, monitoring the health conditions of the staff, etc.
We would call on relevant authorities to contact retailers and manufacturers locally to define together the practicalities of such reopening to ensure that all the safety measures and sanitary conditions met.
We call on authorities in each EU member State to establish the conditions to be met to allow the opening of shops selling appliances in a safe way. The local associations of retailers and producers are available to help define together the practicalities of such openings. Additionally, we invite the EU Commission to assist by providing guidance and coordination for the member States.