Dozens of landlords are being forced to seek new tenants for their assets that used to host restaurants, cafés or bars in various districts of the center of Athens, mainly in Gazi and Kolonaki, while vacancies have also emerged close to Syntagma Square, where the sector had previously been thriving.
Some of the rental ads date back to last March, when the food service sector faced the first lockdown, while many commercial lease contracts that expired at the end of the year have not been renewed. Notably most vacancies, particularly in Gazi, do not concern small alleyway venues but rather those on the district’s main streets, around the metro station.
Vacant spaces that were formerly home to food service enterprises are to be found in many other areas of the capital too, such as Kifissia, some of which have very large indoor and outdoor spaces.
Across Attica the turnover of the food service sector was down 35% in 2020 from the year before, amounting to 1.57 billion euros, compared to €2.41 billion in 2019, according to figures published by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Friday.
The sector has been particularly hard hit in Thessaloniki, which has a high number of very small enterprises, mainly cafés and kebab shops, that are now registering very low takings, due both to the sector’s lockdown and to the fact that many students have left the city.
The association of the sector’s professionals in Thessaloniki estimates that about 300 food service enterprises and bars will not reopen. Last year the losses of the sector in Thessaloniki were similar to those in the capital, as turnover dropped 34% year-on-year to €341.55 million from €517.2 million in 2019.
Across Greece the food service and bar sector’s turnover amounted to €6.05 billion, down 37.7% from 2019. The biggest losses have predictably been recorded in tourism destinations such as Mykonos (down 73.3% year-on-year) and Santorini (71%), but also on Karpathos (66.7%), Thassos (61.1%) and Zakynthos (60.2%).
In the last quarter of the year, which includes the second lockdown, the sector’s turnover shrank 46% on an annual basis across the country.