In spite of closed borders throughout Latin America, several duty free stores are continuing to operate on the Uruguay – Brazil border. The stores on the Uruguayan side of the border are looking after the shopping needs of their Brazilian customers, who reside in neighboring twin towns immediately adjacent to their Uruguayan border. The depressed exchange rate ($US 1 = 5.6 BRL) and sparse traffic have meant that sales are below normal but operators are happy to stay open albeit with limited hours to serve their Brazilian shoppers with wines, spirits, perfume, and confectionery.
DFA is open on Uruguay border and on track for Brazil debut
DFA Uruguay is currently operating five of its most important stores on the Uruguay-Brazil border, according to Andres Mendelsohn, company General Manager.
“At the moment, we have five stores opened with restricted hours. We have studied the traffic flows in each town and we have adapted our opening hours to suit. In general, we are seeing more traffic from Wednesday – Saturday. The visitors are almost exclusively from the twin towns on the border and we expect that this will continue for several weeks.”
Mendelsohn confirmed that the company is assisting its colleagues in Brazil and that the DFA store in Uruguaiana is on schedule to open in mid-September.
“We have already sent by road from Montevideo the first lorries and we will continue to do so for the next few months. At the moment the store will be targeting local residents, and we have based our initial product selection on that basis.”
Mendelsohn confirmed that once the Uruguaiana store is up and running DFA Uruguay and DFA do Brasil will continue the group’s Brazil expansion program with a new store in Foz de Iguacu which they hope to open before the end of the year.
Neutral border stores in operation
Long-established border store operator Neutral, taken over by Panama-based Top Brands in July 2019, confirmed that it was operating all of its stores on the border.
General Manager Marcelo Montico tells TMI while traffic is below normal, the store is seeing shoppers.
“We are receiving visits from our neighbors and we have adapted the opening hours of each store to ensure that we are open during the busiest days,” he explains.
“Normally the latter part of the week is the best time in all our stores and that is when we are most productive.”
Siñeriz also targets Brazilians
Rivera’s biggest retailer, Siñeriz, is also looking after Brazilian residents from its downtown store and, as of two weeks ago, it reopened its 10,000sqm flagship store.
“We have been slowly expanding our commercial activities but at the same time ensuring our staff and customers are protected with the best sanitary protocols. Two weeks ago, we opened our biggest store along with the adjacent food court, again with the protocols recommended by the government,” says Siñeriz business development director, Rafael Parodi.
“Next month, our cinemas are scheduled to open and that means that our whole complex will be operating, albeit with restricted opening hours,” he notes.