Ministry intervenes as sales and offers debate splits retailers

Talks between the Development Ministry and commerce associations regarding changes to the framework of sales and offers by retailers will enter the final straight next week.

The ministry’s aim is to bridge a longstanding gap between various trade professionals and if possible formulate a legislative framework by the end of the year.

This mission is not at all easy, it would appear, as the different views among tradesmen are not just due to the different sizes of their enterprises, but also to location. A high-level ministry official who is participating in the negotiations says that “tradesmen even disagreed on which of the two Sundays shops would open around Christmas, December 23 or 30.”

In recent months, besides the standoff between representatives of small and medium-sized commerce enterprises and major retail chains, there is also disagreement between the Athens Traders Association (ESA) and the other tradesmen’s associations, as well as the national Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE).

These disagreements are due to differences in buying habits in each area and could be dealt with via the partial liberalization of the market’s operating framework in favor of allowing local traders’ associations to decide themselves for their own areas and not have to heed orders from the central administration.

These differing views are reflected in a survey of 105 traders’ associations conducted by ESEE, in which the entrepreneurs were asked for their opinion on sales, offers and the issue of Sunday opening.

The survey found that 78.7 percent are in favor of retaining the current system of two sales periods per year. However, ESA is in favor of four sales periods per year, one every three months, which is also favored by the Development Ministry.

Regarding special offers, 82.7 percent believe they should be limited and 10.7 percent want the current system to be opened up completely. As for Sunday opening, tradesmen are strongly against it, with 86.7 percent saying they do not want any changes to the system of one Sunday per year. Some 5.3 percent would prefer shops to open two Sundays every year, while ESA has instead proposed six Sundays of work for retailers per year.

There is no doubt that conditions in Greek commerce are today very different to 2005, the last time that the retail framework was changed.

This in itself constitutes a good enough reason for its review, so as to prevent any arbitrary self-regulatory moves by entrepreneurs themselves.

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