"EU regulations are often too strict"
The small shopkeepers fear for their survival; culprits: market share loss to the hyper and super stores and strict EU regulations
7 January 2008 - The small neighbourhood shops complain about what they call exaggerated European regulations. According to the IGFA, the International Federation of Self-employed Food Retailers, the regulations were drawn up for the large food concerns.
"You get lost in the number of rules is regulations," says Chris De Clercq, chairman of the IGFA. "You almost need specialised accountants for the administration." "The labelling is another problem. People who have small-scale operations need experts for the labelling."
According to De Clercq, the regulations regarding hygiene also go overboard. The major problems we've had in the food sector over recent years are a result of fraudulent practices by the manufacturers not the shopkeepers.
Over the past 20 years, the market share of the local neighbourhood shops has dropped by 40% to about 14%. The hypermarkets and the cheap supermarket chains are the beneficiaries.
To survive in today's consumer world, the small local shops should concentrate on regional products, according to De Clercq. He is afraid that the regional products will disappear altogether if the regulations remain so strict.