By Dimitra Manifava
The successful experiment of the so-called White Night event last Saturday in Athens and many storeowners’ disappointment about not being able to open on the last Sunday of the year in the capital and most other cities are forcing Greece’s commerce market, local authorities and the Development Ministry to have second thoughts about retailers’ opening hours.
The National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) appears to be relaxing its tough stance on the issue of Sunday opening, while certain regional authorities are expressing willingness to change their decisions issued about Sundays in November and the ministry is saying changes to the framework could be introduced before 2015 as the law passed earlier this year provides.
The causes for the change of heart appear to be the increased turnover on Sundays this festive season, as well as the success in the extended operation of Athens stores until 11 p.m. on Saturday, and the confusion that reigned over the opening of stores on the last Sunday of the year – with a few stores doing so regardless.
The deputy regional governor of Thessaloniki, Giorgos Tsamaslis, has already sent the ministry a letter asking for the framework to be revised.
The question is whether the greater consumer traffic and turnover witnessed in the last few days are enough to deduce any safe conclusions about a further extension to stores’ opening hours.
Commenting on the experience of the White Night in Athens, ESEE head Vassilis Korkidis said that “the extension to the opening hours on that day was an absolute hit. We now have to examine the retail market of Athens and every other city very carefully, as the market should follow the consumer, and not the other way around.”