“The development of a locality or a city is closely tied to the development of its commerce,” minister of SMEs Lex Delles (DP) said during a Wednesday press conference held at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. Additional pressure is put on such commerce due to, for example, the expansion of online shopping, he added.
Moreover, business confidence heading into 2023 is lower than during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. In the Chamber of Commerce’s economic barometer for S2 2022, the commerce sector was less confident than the overall economy in its 2023 outlook: 61% in the sector anticipated an unfavourable economic climate compared to 45% overall.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Carlo Thelen highlighted some of the support measures such businesses are able to receive, for example through the House of Entrepreneurship, in terms of digitalisation, financing, development and more.
Delles called “local commerce a central pillar in our villages” and outlined the five main axes of the 2023 pro-business package.
The first centres on a commercial register, combining a national map with a database--a selection of which is available to the general public through the Geoportail website. The register can help in identifying trends--for example vacancy rates in a certain area. The optimisation of this kind of data makes it possible for businesses to better follow and react proactively to such trends. As Confederation of Commerce (CLC) president Carole Muller pointed out, 10 communes and commercial unions participated in 2022.
Another 2023 focus is on further statistical analysis. Since 2010, there has been a 22% growth in commerce, and in 2021 this branch included 54,800 employees. Further evolution of Luxembourg data figures will feed into a retail report, the 2022 version of which will be released in March.
Promoting Luxembourg in the greater region will be another priority for 2023. In 2022, a greater region promotional campaign ran from mid-September to early November, using 13 influencers in 13 shopping destinations in Luxembourg. Over 100,000 accounts were reached, with an average engagement rate of 10.1%. But, as Delles outlined during Wednesday’s press conference, local businesses “often haven’t fully reached their potential” when it comes to tapping into potential of the greater region.
One of the measures that might help with this will be a retail event in July 2023. Last year’s “future of commerce” event brought in over 200 participants.
Finally, a fifth axis of the package aims to heighten awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR), with the general directorate for SMEs and entrepreneurship. A CSR webinar training was provided for 60 businesses, and the package foresees accompanying businesses in their preparation to obtain the CSR label through national institute INDR.
As Delles put it, social and economically sustainable principles are becoming increasingly important for businesses, whether it’s due to the need for durable goods and energy savings, but also provides a positive image of the business for clients. The package allows for businesses to get expert help on CSR measures on a personalised level.
Thelen praised the renewal of the Pakt Pro Commerce, calling it a “high-performance tool providing relevant initiatives for the development of retail trade in Luxembourg. It aims to provide support to better manage current challenges and face them in a rapidly-changing environment.”