EPP’s shopping centres re-open safely in time for festive shopping
JSE-listed EPP, Poland’s biggest retail landlord, confirmed that all its shopping centres in Poland re-opened this weekend (from Saturday, 28 November 2020) with strict sanitation protocols in time for all-important festive season trading. The move is being welcomed as a positive for the Polish economy in general, and shoppers and retailers specifically. The shopping centres were given the green light to re-open because they have proven to be well equipped to provide safe, sanitised environments for shoppers and staff alike.
The Polish government lifted the trading restrictions that it imposed on all shopping centres and retail locations bigger than 2,000 sqm from 7 November 2020 after only three weeks of the country’s second lockdown. All EPP shopping centres were ready to re-open safely at the first available opportunity, and 89% of EPP’s retail portfolio by gross lettable area is now operating. In addition to the essential grocery and cosmetics, pharmacy and medical stores, DIY stores, outlets selling books or newspapers, telecommunication salons, pet retailers and services that had remained open during the lockdown, a wide range of stores in Poland welcomed back their shoppers this weekend – including the country’s festive favourites of fashion and accessories, home and décor and toys and tech. Cafés and restaurants are open for takeaways and deliveries. Further decisions regarding the opening of restaurants are expected by 27 December 2020. Cinemas, fitness and entertainment facilities remain closed.
The re-opening of retail comes at the best possible time. Traditionally, the final quarter accounts for more than 30% of annual retail turnover in Poland, with December turnover being 50% higher than the monthly average of the other 11 months. Profits made during this time sustain many businesses through the slower first quarter of the year. Among the retail categories that take their highest turnovers in the final quarter are health and beauty, home and interior and specialist jewellers, as well as services, fashion and food and beverages. In 2020, December trade is more important than ever – it is a much-needed opportunity for many companies to boost their earnings before year-end.
Tomasz Trzósło, CEO of EPP, says “We are pleased with the decision of the Polish Government to re-open shopping centres, especially ahead of such an important trading period for our retail tenants. The impact of this much-shorter trade restriction on EPP is expected to be less severe than the first lockdown in March and April, which lasted seven weeks. EPP remains in close contact with the government, health and sanitary authorities and industry associations to ensure all health protocols are strictly followed. We have taken great care to ensure our operations are run under rigorous sanitary conditions, stricter than the legal obligations. Providing safe environments for shoppers, staff and employees is by far our top priority at the moment, and it will continue to be so until the pandemic continues. We look forward to our customers visiting our centres and shopping in the safe environments that we provide.”
EPP has implemented all the guidelines for shopping centres recommended by the Polish Ministry of Development, Labour and Technology and the Chief Sanitary Inspector. Polish safety rules are more detailed and comprehensive than the international guidelines of the World Health Organisation, which guarantees safety on many levels. EPP’s shopping centres are applying the DDM – distance, disinfection, mask – principle. Its malls provide generous access to disinfectant dispensers. They also display safety rules and reminders on very visible posters and stickers and make regular in-mall announcements. Its centre staff are well trained and familiar with all procedures. The malls have a strict sanitation regime, which is repeated over a dozen times throughout each day, and high-touch surfaces are disinfected even more frequently. EPP’s shopping malls are using technology to monitor the number of customers inside their facilities in real-time to comply with the limit of one person per 15 sqm of sales or service area at shopping centres. Importantly, considering the significant size of its retail properties, EPP expects to be able to serve Christmas shoppers efficiently and within the limits allowed.
Customers are also being encouraged to play their part by keeping a safe distance, disinfecting their hands and wearing their masks properly. Poles have also been asked to plan their shopping early to avoid traditional peak shopping times and the last minute.