PARIS — Daily life may be returning to normal in fits and starts in Brussels after the terrorist attacks of March 22 that killed 32 people, but Belgium’s retail scene is expected to remain impacted in their wake.
A spokeswoman from COMEOS, the Belgian organization for commerce and services, said that already the fallout from the November Paris terrorist attacks — which claimed 130 lives and was followed by Belgium raising its terror alert plus two days of stores closures in Brussels — caused sales of nonfood goods to decline an estimated 100 million euros, or $108.2 million at average exchange, between November and yearend countrywide versus the same prior-year period. (COMEOS did not generate what overall sales were in that time frame.)
“It’s too soon to really calculate the impact [of the March events], but we’re a bit scared that it’s going to be an even bigger loss because this time something actually happened [on Belgian soil] and everybody saw the images,” said the spokeswoman.
The entire nation remains disrupted by the attacks, with everything from security raids to the Brussels Airport remaining closed. On Thursday, the operator had said it could partially reopen on Friday night and that the heavily damaged departures area would function only at 20 percent capacity, receiving 800 departing passengers an hour. However, those plans were put on hold on Friday afternoon, according to a spokeswoman for the airport, who added the earliest it would open would be Saturday.
Meanwhile, the world’s largest tourist operator Tui Group said in its trading update released Thursday that its bookings in Belgium were up 2 percent in the November through March 20 period, ending two days before the attacks.
A company spokesman explained that generally what happens after such events is that there is a slight dip in bookings, but that a week or two later the pace picks up again.