With the Coronavirus Spiking in Italy, Domestic Consumption Drops

Emilee Geist

MILAN — With the coronavirus spiking again across the country, consumer consumption is falling once again following the summer holidays.

According to research conducted by Confimprese in collaboration with EY, September sales of fashion, beauty and interior design products, as well as those of restaurants, bars and cultural institutions, dropped 11.9 percent compared to August and 34.8 percent compared to September 2019.

Restaurants and fashion stores were the commercial activities most dramatically hit by the crisis with their turnovers down 37.8 and 35.3 percent compared to 2019, respectively. In September, purchases of fashion items decreased 7 percent compared to August, a month that benefited from the summer sales.

Revealing an increased interest toward household goods, sales of homeware and interior design objects registered less dramatic declines, with a 26.5 percent drop compared to 2019.

In September, while online sales were up 22.7 percent compared to last year, the business of malls and outlets was down 15.1 and 10.3 percent, respectively. Due to the high percentage of people working from home and the absence of international tourists, sales of stores located on Italian cities’ high streets decreased 19.7 percent, while numbers show how the situation was less negative in smaller cities and in the suburbs of larger towns. There, in September, sales were down 9.8 percent compared to August and 31.3 percent compared to last year.

Across the most important Italian cities, Florence is the worst performing, posting a 35.1 percent decrease compared to last year. It is followed by Milan, Bologna, Venice and Rome.

These negative data are deeply connected with the dramatic drop in tourism across the country, where last month the travel sector was down 62 percent compared to the same period last year.

“It’s really hard to make forecasts now. The first data related to the month of October register a significant slowdown of both arrivals from foreign countries and revenues,” said Mario Maiocchi, director of Confimprese’s center for retail studies. “The further evolution of the pandemic suggests a worsening of the situation for the last and most important quarter of the year. With the travel business registering a 55 percent decrease, the main railway station and airport operators have to support the cry for help from retailers.”

Business is expected to be further hit in several Italian regions going forward, starting with the Lombardy region, badly impacted by the second wave of the pandemic and which has asked the Italian government to approve a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and the closure of nonfood shopping malls on weekends.

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