Interview with Stefan Genth, General Manager of the German Retail Association

How do the closures of borders within Europe affect trade, how much does the European economic area suffer from national solo efforts?

The outbreak of COVID-19 has plunged the European and global economy into a severe crisis. Trade, with its widely ramified international supply chains, is particularly affected. Our ultimate goal must be to restore the internal market as quickly as possible. National go-it-alone initiatives have exacerbated the crisis in Europe. 

What role will digitalisation play in the retail sector in the post-Covid era? Will there be more digitalisation, will online trade increase, or will the retail sector win back its customers?

Online trade will remain the growth driver in retail. This trend cannot be stopped and will continue after the Corona. The crisis shows us the advantages of linking digital and stationary offers. This results in new opportunities that our retailers must take advantage of.  

Many catering businesses will probably not survive the shutdown, their existence is threatened. Will this mean that food retailers with their bistro and "To Go" activities will be able to emerge from the crisis stronger?

It will be existential for many catering businesses - as in the retail sector - how quickly government financial aid reaches them. The German government has acted quickly and decisively with its aid package, and yet the question still arises as to whether the funds will be sufficient in the end. Further market developments depend on this.

What lessons do you, as the German Retail Association, draw from the current crisis? 

We need a strong, united Europe with a functioning internal market as an answer to the challenges of globalisation.