A pilot scheme which foresees all stores being able to open for business on Sundays throughout the year will apply to seven areas across the country for 12 months in a decision that is reportedly mentioned in the International Monetary Fund report whose publication was postponed yesterday by one week.
The seven areas where businesses will be allowed to operate according to the provisions of the law voted earlier this year are located in three Greek regions. In Attica they are the commercial center of Athens, including Ermou Street and Omonia Square, and the port of Rafina in the east; in the Southern Aegean they are Rhodes, Kos and Ermoupoli on Syros; and in Central Macedonia they are the commercial center of Thessaloniki, including Tsimiski Street, and the Halkidiki peninsula.
Development Ministry sources stress that it is the Finance Ministry that will be responsible for the final negotiations on the issue with the country’s creditors, but they do not refute that those are the areas where the measure will be experimentally applied.
The Development Ministry’s decision to rule that stores in those areas will have the option of opening on any Sunday of the year regardless of their size and without any decisions by their regional authority will need to be issued by July 7.
The issue of Sunday opening for stores will be reassessed in spring 2015, based on agreements reached with Greece’s creditors and building on the experience from the pilot scheme in the above areas, while the full liberalization of opening hours throughout the country cannot be ruled out.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had recommended two options: The first concerned the pilot application of the measure in certain areas popular with tourists and then the comparison of consumer behavior and turnover with the areas where stores would remain shut on Sundays, while the second provided for the immediate liberalization of Sunday operation of all stores. The government opted for the first.
Besides Sunday opening, the issue of sales and offers periods is also heading toward liberalization. By October 7, the development minister must have issued a decision for the creation of a Code of Conduct regarding the protection of consumers during periods of sales, offers and promotional actions. The current status will be reassessed at the end of the year so that a new law will have done away with the existing limitations by spring 2015.