The Commission publishes a set of best practices to support Member States' efforts to create a more open, integrated and competitive retail sector
The retail sector is one of the biggest sectors in the EU economy, with almost one in ten people working in over 3.6 million retail companies. The sector is changing rapidly with the development of e-commerce and multi-channel retailing, and has the potential to perform better. Still, in many countries the regulatory framework put in place decades ago has not been adapted to the digital age.
This is why the Commission published today a set of best practices to provide guidance for Member States in their efforts to create a more open, integrated and competitive retail market. The best practices will help Member States to identify less restrictive measures without putting public policy objectives at risk. This will contribute to a better performing retail sector, benefit consumers, and have positive spill-over effects on manufacturing and other sectors.
According to the Commission, Member States can make further progress in facilitating retail establishment. National, regional and local authorities are therefore encouraged to reduce undue or disproportionate burdens, making retail establishment procedures simpler, shorter and more transparent. For instance, in France, the rules concerning retail establishment allows retailers to select the optimal location for their shop without consideration granted to the shop format and products assortment.
Member States are also encouraged to reduce restrictions to daily operations of shops which may become a significant burden for businesses and affect their productivity. For these reasons, the Commission has identified best practices on sales promotions and discounts, specific sales channels, shop opening hours, retail specific taxes, purchasing of products in other Member States and contractual practices of modern retail. In Finland, for example, the shop opening hours have recently been fully liberalised, with a significant positive impact on competition and employment. In Belgium, to simplify the administrative process, the Regions introduced integrated procedures and one-stop-shops for retail establishment. These changes enable retailers to apply for a single integrated permit in one place.
Similarly, sales promotions and discounts can be part of a retailer's strategy in a multi-channel environment or for entering a new market. In Luxembourg a recent reform was introduced with the aim to facilitate the end of business sales and authorise sales below cost. Greece extended the end-of-season sales periods in 2014.
The Commission has also published today a guide on fostering the revitalisation and modernisation of the small retail sector. The guide gives public authorities practical suggestions on how to help small retailers embrace technological change and meet the challenges of the future and how to build retail communities to help bring consumers to city-centres. The guide identifies success stories from which Member States can draw inspiration.
19 Abril 2018