Athens traders feel pain from transport strikes

Public transport strikes have taken a heavy toll in central Athens’s retail district, keeping shoppers away and pushing turnover deep into negative territory, the Athens Traders Association (ESA) said on Wednesday.

After a year during which 850 protest marches were held in the city center — about three per working day — central Athens traders have seen customer numbers plummet in the first two weeks of the winter sales season, which runs until the end of February.

«In Thessaloniki, traders saw turnover rise 25-30 percent in the first two weeks of the sales season from Christmas. Without the strikes in Athens, we would have at least this growth rate,» Margarita Zoulovits, ESA’s secretary-general, told Kathimerini English Edition.

«On the first two Saturdays of the sales season, when there were no strikes, turnover rose by 30-40 percent from last year,» she said.

Traders have seen revenues fall 40 percent over last year since January 15 when the sales season started, Zoulovits added.

The strikes have pushed shoppers to different parts of Athens but not everyone is hurting from the protest action.

The National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) said on Tuesday that the drop in turnover in the first week of the winter sales period has decreased from last year, boosting expectations in the sector.

ESEE said sales across Greece are 10 percent lower than last year, following a 25 percent drop in turnover during the respective period last year.

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