RETAIL

Reopening not a relief to all

reopening-not-a-relief-to-all

The Fourlis Group has decided to restrict the operation of most IKEA stores to the click-and-collect mode, as the government decision to set strict limits on customer numbers inside shops means their full operation doesn’t make any financial sense.

The five main stores of the Swedish homeware chain in Thessaloniki, Larissa, Ioannina and Athens (where there are two) will only make prearranged sales, while only the Piraeus IKEA, which is fairly small, and the chain’s six pickup points in Greece will operate normally.

This is due to the measure setting the maximum number of customers in a store at any one time at 20 – no matter how large – which comes into force on Monday. The rule of one person per 25 square meters also continues to apply.

A similar concern has arisen at toy and homeware chain Jumbo, over whether it makes sense to open its stores, which, just like IKEA’s, are very big and customers have to follow a certain route in order to reach the checkouts and exit, which requires a lot of time. Until late on Thursday no final decision had been made as to what the chain will do, after suffering major losses over the last year.

British-owned electrics chain Kotsovolos has decided to open its stores where permitted (malls and department stores will not open on Monday), even if the restrictions mean it will only be able to host 20 people in its large stores instead of the 150 it would normally take in at any given time with the restriction of one person per 25 sq.m.

Although it is an expensive exercise, Public-Media Markt will also open its stores, while sources say the chain has been among many companies asking for numerous clarifications from the Development Ministry.

Many retailers are seeking ways to reduce the time that customers spend inside their stores, so as to serve as many shoppers as possible on any given day, and without having long queues outside.

The market is also upset about the exclusion of malls, outlet stores, department stores and discount villages from the reopening.