Market may open by March 8
The government is considering the reopening of retail commerce on March 8, if not from March 1, with the normal operation of brick-and-mortar stores as opposed to the click-and-collect or click-inside models employed in previous months.
At the same time it is also taking a positive view of a demand from the market for an extension of the winter sales to March 31, as the window has been all but lost this winter with physical shops operating normally only for 12 days.
The winter sales started on January 11, when stores were locked down until January 18, and are supposed to end this weekend, when the strict lockdown is scheduled to end in Attica and several other regions, with a possible extension to restrictions.
The demand for the extension of the winter sales has already been forwarded by the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), and on Monday the board of the Athens Tradesmen Association sent a letter to Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis asking for the reopening of retail from next Monday and the extension of the sales period to end-March.
The government and the market are considering the option of reopening the market in a normal mode (of course with social distancing and hygiene provisions), so as to avoid having retailing operate in various speeds and to prevent the suspension of its operation again after a few weeks’ time. What the market now fears most is a new lockdown before Easter (the Greek Orthodox celebration this year being on May 2), which would deprive the sector of one more busy period.
The other demand, regarding the extension of the sales period, is more likely to be satisfied, with the government expected to bring a legal amendment to Parliament about it in the next few days.
The fact the retail commerce is closed in Attica and several other key areas, all of which account for 60% of the market turnover in Greece, means huge losses not only for the merchants but also the state coffers, that are taking a weekly hit of 500 million euros.