Aldi and Lidl have bowed to pressure to end sales of “aisle” products that are not considered essential after the government threatened crackdown on retailers who violate lockdown guidelines.
The two grocery chains resisted calls last week to cordon off shelves selling children’s toys, clothing, housewares and other items as business leaders warned smaller stores that obey the rules and could reopen in a campaign of disobedience.
Isme, who represents smaller traders, criticized the government for facilitating “massive wealth transfers” from crippled small shops to profitable multiples.
In response, Tánaiste and Economy Minister Leo Varadkar warned large supermarkets about “illegal” practices, saying Lake Garda would enforce regulations banning the sale of non-essential items.
Tesco and Dunnes blocked access to products such as clothing, housewares, home entertainment and toys over the weekend.
Gardaí is believed to have visited a number of outlets across the country to verify compliance.
Representatives from major food retailers held a conference call with Retail Minister of State Damian English on Wednesday to further clarify the Level 5 restrictions.
Following the meeting, Aldi issued a statement in which it stated that the sale of all non-essential goods in its weekly “special purchases and aisle promotions” would be postponed for the duration of the tightened restrictions.
“In accordance with government guidelines, we have decided to postpone all non-essential special offers on product purchases,” a spokesman said.
“One-time special buys offers for important products will continue to be offered for sale every Thursday and Sunday. Thank you for your cooperation and patience in these challenging times. “
A Lidl spokeswoman said it will “not offer any items for sale that are not considered essential – e. B. Christmas decorations, casual wear and toys. “
“We are also in the process of removing leftover inventory from previous non-essential promotions,” she added.
“We will continue to sell items that are classified as material, such as: B. home and business maintenance, safety clothing, repair and maintenance of cars and bicycles, etc. in our aisles.
“We hope to be able to put canceled items up for sale at a later date to lift restrictions and keep customers informed through our social media channels and website.”
The spokeswoman said some customers will be disappointed as nonessential items that are on sale in her weekly promotional brochure, which is printed a few weeks in advance, are no longer available.
Last week, Lidl said that if it were forced to take non-essential items off sale, “it would create massive logistical problems and lead to our warehouses being overcrowded, which would seriously affect our ability to source essential groceries.”
“We can understand that this may seem unfair, but we have made every effort to stop promoting these articles in the media and online,” a spokeswoman said at the time.
An Aldi spokesman said at the time: “The vast majority of our range consists of groceries and other important household items that Irish families rely on.”
Level 5 restrictions may include, but are not limited to, supermarkets, pharmacies, health and hardware stores, stores that sell PPE, fuel suppliers, stores that sell things that are considered essential to animal welfare, and stores that sell products, for which can be opened until the beginning of December the “essential maintenance and functioning of residential and business locations”.
Any retail store that can operate a click-and-collect system, home delivery, or phone order can also continue to trade, although people cannot visit stores to browse the aisles.
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