Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Retail chains oppose draft presidential edict regulating sale of alcohol

Dzmitry ZAYATS, Naviny.by

Belarus leading retail chains have expressed strong opposition to a draft presidential edict that would regulate the sale of alcohol in the country.

As Tatsyana Zakzhewskaya, executive director of the Association of Retail Chains, told reporters in Minsk on Thursday, the draft presidential edict allows stores to sell alcoholic beverages only between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

In addition, it says that alcoholic beverages should be sold in a separate place within the store.

It will be impossible for stores that occupy less than 300 square meters to meet this requirement, Ms. Zakzhewskaya noted.

Top executives of several retail chains warned that the signing of the edict in its current form would lead to the closure of many stores.

If the edict is signed, about seven or eight stores out of 17 stores in our chain will not be able to meet its requirements, said Syarhey Smolski, director general of the Posttorg retail chain. Consequently, we will have to close those stores to avoid the bankruptcy of the entire retail chain.

Only two out of 71 stores belonging to the Rublyowski retail chain will be able to meet the edicts requirements, said the chains Director General Natallya Shablinskaya.

Twenty of the stores will need a lot of investment, that means great expenses, to meet the edicts requirements if it is signed, Ms. Shablinskaya said. And we will not be able to do anything in the other stores to make them meet the requirements.
According to Ms. Shablinskaya, the signing of the edict will lead to an increase in consumer prices.

There will be no way for us to make up for the losses caused by the implementation of the edict other than to raise retail prices, and we would not want to do this, she said.

Retail trade in Belarus decreased by 3.1 percent in the first nine months of 2016, and 40 percent of buyers purchased alcohol in the period, said Andrey Zubkow, director general of the Euroopt retail chain.

If the draft edict is signed, it will undoubtedly lead to a further decrease in the volume of retail trade, Mr. Zubkow said.