Proposal by PS President Paul Magnette to make Belgium “the first country without e-commerce“, mentioned in an interview with the Flemish weekly Humo, provoked a reaction from the trade sector on Monday night. For Comeos, this declaration”shows unprecedented negligence“while the leader of the Flemish Boss Organization Unizo rejects a proposal that can only be made by someone who”still living in the Stone Age“.
The Association for Trade and Services points out that Belgians buy en masse online, with more than 80% already buying an item online. For Danny Van Assche, the head of the Flemish bosses, Paul Magnette’s statement is not “not in his time“.”E-commerce has become a very important part of the way we spend. It will never disappear“, he says. If e-commerce disappeared from Belgium, goods bought online would therefore come from abroad and”we would lose 9 billion euros in turnover and tens of thousands of jobs“, Calculates Comeos.
The latter regrets that the president of the PS also believes that e-commerce provides lower quality jobs. “He thinks that ordinary stores will survive, but he is not right. The reality is that every brick and mortar chain today has a digital strategy and that the future of trade will be physical and digital.“According to Comeos.”If Mr. Magnette does not want bad business, the solution is simple: then he should help organize e-commerce here in Belgium.“instead of the current situation they are monopolizing”foreign actors“.
Comeos believes that the Belgian alternative to online shopping from abroad has its place. Proof of this is the doubling of the number of online stores in 2020, prompted by the closure, to 49,000 virtual stores. “Therefore, we must not withdraw gradually, we, as a Belgian trader, must be able to offer all the comforts to the modern consumer. Let e-commerce flourish here instead of across borders and you will get three things: economic added value in our country, with local suppliers; Belgian jobs with respectable working and wage conditions and more local deliveries with busy city centers with local logistics platforms“Explains Comeosa CEO Dominique Michel.
“We hope that consumers will visit the store for a long time, and we hope that they have learned how important their local business is. If we no longer buy in local shops, there is less income and work in Belgium, and towns and villages are emptied. Therefore, it is important to shop locally, but it is also possible through e-commerce.“, Danny Van Assche points to his side.
Unizo advocates that the rules come into force to ensure fair competition between local traders and international industrial giants. The organization specifically mentions tax treatment or inspections. He also wants a ban on free returns.