The loosening of restrictions on April 5 will see many businesses opening their doors for the first time in months, but the União de Associações do Comércio e Serviços (UACS) warns that roughly 20% of high street stores in Lisbon will never open again, according to Expresso.
Clothing stores are the most affected, with the president of UACS, Lourdes Fonseca, noting that while bakeries, cafes and other businesses have continued to trade at their doorways, “it is difficult to choose and buy shoes when you cannot enter the store.” This, Fonseca estimates, has resulted in a drop of revenue for fashion stores of between 50% and 70% as compared with the same period in 2019. Small businesses have been hit especially hard, since they have been left holding seasonal stock that can no longer be sold, with little support or compensation.
Neighborhoods that would normally have high foot traffic and tourism, such as Baixa and Chiado, are expected to experience the most closures, with the four main streets in downtown Lisbon seeing 111 stores already closed as of last November. Stores located in more residential districts, focussing on local trade, have proved far more resilient, Fonseca tells Expresso.
While the prediction is rather grim, Fonseca noted that the “Lisbon Protege” program proved an invaluable aid to businesses, claiming that this assistance during the second lockdown is what will allow many businesses to be open again today.