The Lockdown Light is still worrying traders at the Cologne wholesale market. "Up to the beginning of the current partial lockdown, we were still able to sell relatively well. But at the moment, things are very quiet at the wholesale market, because the catering sales division is as good as dead," says catering wholesaler Imer Bislimi, owner of the company of the same name. According to the company's own statements, it is recording a 70 percent drop in sales.
Compared to the first wave of the virus, in spring, the situation is now completely reversed. "At the time of the first restaurant closures, we were able to compensate for the loss of sales to a large extent with increased sales in the weekly market and specialist retail trade sectors. However, these two sales areas are now also in sharp decline," Bislimi observes.
A Bislimi delivery vehicle leaves the Cologne market site
Due to the difficult marketing situation, the wholesaler has reduced its inventories considerably. This way, he hopes to avoid spoilage as much as possible, saving costs. The consequences of the Corona pandemic are also noticeable at a product level, says Bislimi, who mainly specializes in vegetables. "Peeled garlic, for example, is hardly in demand because it is a true gastronomical article. Until two weeks ago we were still able to sell large quantities of cauliflower. But standard vegetables are now being sold much less often as well."
Reopening of the hospitality industry
Nevertheless, the retailers can also report some positives: "Some restaurateurs have the situation well under control, successfully offering their dishes via delivery services." Despite everything, day-to-day business still continues at the Cologne market. "There are still customers who will pick up their food here, under the constant supervision of the local market authorities."
Bislimi has meanwhile lost all hope of a soon relaxation of the conditions. "It would be good if the regional hospitality industry was to open again in December. Apart from this, the potential reopening of the hospitality industry in January or March would not play a major role for us retailers, in terms of sales."