BUSINESS

Food stores back to 9 p.m. close

DIMITRA MANIFAVA

TAGS: Retail

As of Thursday, supermarket opening hours will only be 60 minutes longer per day compared to the period before the onset of the coronavirus epidemic in Greece, while this Sunday, and possibly the next, they will remain closed.

The reduction in consumer traffic in recent days, following the spate of panic buying observed two to three weeks earlier and combined with the strong reactions of chain owners, persuaded the Development Ministry to revise its original position regarding supermarket opening times. Supermarkets are still experiencing an unprecedented situation in terms of turnover, as sales are almost twice that recorded in the same period last year, a record increase that even beats the jump seen in the summer of 2015 in the days before the imposition of the capital controls.

The new opening hours for supermarkets and other food stores until April 25 are Mondays to Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. On March 29 stores will be closed, while a decision about the following Sunday, April 5, will be made later.

According to a survey by Netrino retail commerce researchers and Rass pollsters, 76.2 percent of consumers are against Sunday opening for supermarkets, while 56.3 percent say they don’t think it’s necessary to increase the opening hours of food retailers.

For a large part of the population, these responses are related to the fact that they have purchased much more than usual in recent weeks. According to IRI Hellas research data, in the week of March 9-15 – i.e. the third week after the coronavirus emerged Greece, when schools shut down – supermarket sales soared 95.7 percent from the same week in 2019. Over the first three weeks of the epidemic in Greece, from February 24 to March 15, supermarket sales recorded annual growth of 35.7 percent. This has brought the total annual rise in supermarket sales in the year to March 15 to 12.1 percent, against just 3.4 percent in January.

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