Berlin shopping re-opening Tuesday, sort of

Stores can offer customers appointments to shop beginning Tuesday. How appointments can be reserved is up to the shops themselves.

Click-and-meet was possible Monday in states that don't have <em>Frauentag</em>.
Click-and-meet was possible Monday in states that don't have Frauentag.Ostkreuz/ Sebastian Wells

Berlin-Retail can resume in the city Tuesday, based on a process the government has unfortunately dubbed click-and-meet, a sibling to click-and-collect. What does it mean and how will it work?

With the click-and-collect concept, already allowed throughout Germany, customers can order online and pick up products at stores. With click-and-meet, customers can reserve a time slot to actually shop in a store - no word on why it wasn't then just called click-and-shop.

The number of customers allowed in a store at the same time depends on store size. The more square metres, the more customers. However, all customers must also leave their contact details.

Exactly how the appointments are made has been left up to individual stores - spontaneously at the store door or via phone, e-mail, Facebook or WhatsApp. MediaMarkt, for example, allows customers to reserve slots by phone or at the door.

How about an opening strategy?

Clothing giant H&M, on the other hand, asks customers to make appointments online or by phone, though demand for appointments was apparently so great that its servers failed. "If the link is overloaded, please contact our customer service by phone, they will help you," H&M said on its website.

The HDE German retail association criticised the government's click-and-meet concept. Shopping by appointment in retail stores is "not a clear step towards a long overdue opening strategy," HDE president Josef Sanktjohanser and chief executive Stefan Genth wrote to Helge Braun, Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff. For most stores, personnel and operating costs will exceed any sales, it said.

Click-and-meet is "a strange solution that is hardly economically feasible for retailers with larger sales areas," Florian Gietl, head of electronics retailer MediaMarktSaturn's German operations, said. He complained about the bureaucratic effort involved in appointment shopping.

Deichmann, the country's biggest shoe chain, also warned that for the vast majority of larger companies, staffing and operating costs are higher than sales when customer footfall is low. Germany's largest perfume retailer Douglas, on the other hand, announced that it would be offering appointments in some of its stores from "Tuesday at the latest."