Closure of shopping malls has generated enormous losses

Rafał Guz/PAP

Financial losses caused by the government-ordered shut-down of shopping malls have already reached an estimated PLN 30 billion (EUR 6.61 billion), according to the Polish Council of Shopping Centres.

Magdalena Fratczak, the head of the retail sector at Polish Council of Shopping Centres (CBRE) in a commentary published on Wednesday, said the minimal support given tenants in the form of rent abolition, as well as the absolute lack of assistance to property owners and employees in this sector was incomprehensible in the context of losses suffered by the entire retail industry.

According to CBRE, the lockdown also contributes to lower state budget tax receipts.

Fratczak, citing international studies, wrote that "shopping malls are safe places where virus transmission is (...) at the one of the lowest levels, if we take into account public space." "Looking at the disease indicator after the opening of shopping centres in December, when customers visited the centres in large numbers, we do not see any dramatic rise (in infections - PAP)," Fratczak wrote.

She also added that representatives of the Association of Polish Trade and Service Employers, an alliance of domestic retail chains, have already announced that they are considering lawsuits against the State Treasury in view of the recent local court decision which states that restrictions on economic activities cannot be introduced by government ordinances. The court added that the only way to do so, would be through the introduction of a state of natural disaster.

"This judgment may open an avalanche of lawsuits against the State Treasury, and some entrepreneurs may start to show disobedience to government restrictions, which may have negative consequences," wrote Fratczak.

According to her, most justified, in view of the court judgement, would be a return to talks on the opening of shopping centres and the suspension of the present ban on Sunday trading.

This, Fratczak said, would give the retail industry a chance to make up for its losses.