Stores will open on Dec 28, but traders aren’t too happy about it

It has emerged that commercial stores will be officially allowed to open on the last Sunday of the year, December 28, as the Development Ministry submitted an amendment to its multi-bill in Parliament on Wednesday. Brought forward for discussion in the House due to its urgency, the draft law will be voted on Thursday so that the clause on the Sunday opening will apply immediately.

The operation of retail stores on the last Sunday of the year will apply permanently. This means that the number of Sundays that stores can stay open every year will rise to eight from the seven introduced by a law passed in 2013.

The amendment that Minister Costas Skrekas brought to Parliament yesterday in effect annuls the royal decrees of 1966 and 1971, which had remained valid despite the changes in opening hours, consumer habits and commerce in general. Those decrees had stated that commercial shops could only be open on the last Sunday of the year if that fell on December 31.

Stores will also be open this Sunday, December 21, according to the 2013 act. The opening hours proposed by the Athens Traders Association are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., while retail chains and department stores which are members of the Hellenic Retail Business Association (SELPE) will be allowed to open on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the association announced.

Retailers are pinning their hopes on the next two Sundays for a recovery in turnover as private sector workers will by then have received their Christmas bonus – amounting to about a month’s salary. While last Sunday, December 14, may have seen a high number of consumers out shopping – thanks to the favorable weather conditions – the sales volume was rather disappointing.

According to a survey by the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), only 12 percent of enterprises said that their weekly turnover rose due to Sunday opening. One in two small enterprises that participated in the survey said Sunday opening works against them, as they believe that the measure eats into their market share. Worse, only 3 percent of enterprises have hired additional staff to work on Sundays.