BUSINESS

Traders say last weekend proved Sunday opening is pointless

By Dimitra Manifava

About 40 percent of retail stores remained closed last Sunday, while consumer traffic in most commercial districts was subdued, according to a survey conducted by the Commerce and Services Institute of the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE).

Of a random sample of 227 enterprises in the central shopping districts of Athens and Thessaloniki as well as some important suburban hubs such as Piraeus, Maroussi, Nea Ionia, Glyfada and Peristeri, about 78 percent of traders were not satisfied with sales as last Sunday’s turnover was much smaller than that seen on November 3 and January 19.

While the drop in sales can be explained by the holiday season in terms of domestic consumption, hopes that international tourists might pick up the slack appear to have been dashed. Although Sunday opening is mainly supported by the tourism argument, especially concerning the center of Athens, there was no positive response from consumers last weekend, so most entrepreneurs said the measure was completely ineffective, according to ESEE, which had always opposed Sunday opening.

The majority of traders (64 percent) responded that opening their stores on Sundays adds to their operating costs, but there was also a significant minority (36 percent) who said the additional burden was negligible or zero.

As for any intentions of hiring another employee due to the additional day of trade, almost all tradesmen said they wouldn’t, not only now but also in the future. This response cannot be disputed and eliminates the argument of the supporters of Sunday opening regarding the idea it will boost employment, ESEE notes in a statement.

“It appears the beaches stole the show from the sales,” said confederation head Vassilis Korkidis.

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