Almost three in every 10 stores in the Athens city center remain closed, and on certain streets that used to brim with life, such as Harilaou Trikoupi, shuttered shops approach 50 percent, according to a new survey conducted by the Institute of Commerce and Services of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Enterprises (INEMY ESEE).
There are, of course, certain commercial streets in the capital where the picture has improved compared to the past, such as Ermou off Syntagma Square, the Athens’s most popular high street.
The updated survey showed that 28 percent of stores in the center of Athens are shut, up from 26.4 percent in September 2016 and 25.9 percent in March 2016. This has reversed the trend that had started in March 2015, when shut stores accounted for 27.5 percent of all shops in the area.
The findings of the survey show a two-speed market, to say the least. The areas on or close to Exarchia Square as well as the streets linking Omonia Square to Syntagma have seen a particularly high shutdown rates, with Harilaou Trikoupi scoring 45.1 percent this March, up from 42 percent in March 2016. Ippocratous follows with a 39.3 percent rate. Streets near Omonia are also suffering, such as Sophocleous (38.7 percent), Stadiou (34.3 percent) and Panepistimiou (33.9 percent).
On the contrary, the city center’s zones with the lowest shuttered shop rates are Kolonaki (where Patriarchou Ioakim has a 7.6 percent rate) and the historic triangle between Omonia, Syntagma and Monastiraki. The very low rates on Athinas Street (8.2 percent) and Aghiou Markou (9.6 percent) are explained by the proliferation of food service and entertainment establishments.
The INEMY ESEE survey, in fact, found that food service enterprises have stopped increasing (amounting to 15.29 percent of the total against 15.31 percent a year earlier), probably due to the saturation seen in the historic triangle. Clothing stores continue to shrink, accounting for 16.42 percent in March this year against 17.07 percent in March the previous year.