ECONOMY

Capital’s closed stores started to show signs of revival

Fewer commercial stores shut down in the center of Athens and other popular shopping districts around the city in 2014 than in 2013, but about three in every 10 remain without a tenant, while this rate is even higher in certain central streets.

Figures compiled by the National Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) showed that 27 percent of shops in the center of Athens have closed, while that rate had come to 32.5 percent in the fall of 2014.

There are, however, some notable variations around the city center, as the rate in the Syntagma-Omonia-Monastiraki triangle came to 24.8 percent, while in Patissia it stood at 13.5 percent and in Exarchia 34.6 percent. There is also a high rate of empty stores in spots such as Kolonaki (28 percent) and central streets such as Stadiou and Panepistimiou, where closed shops reached 33.2 percent of the total.

Market professionals point to three main reasons for the decline in the rate of empty shops: last year’s stabilization of the Greek economy that led to an improvement in consumer confidence; the significant drop in rental rates, even in key commercial streets; and that the market decline has bottomed out, meaning that all the stores that were going to close have closed.

A significant decline in the rate of closed shops has also been noted in various suburbs of the Greek capital which constitute traditional hotspots for Athenian consumers. In Halandri closed stores accounted for 18.3 percent of the total last year, against 22.3 percent in 2013. In Maroussi the rate fell to 18.3 percent from 25.6 percent a year earlier, in Nea Ionia it dropped to 21.1 percent from 34.7 percent, and in Glyfada it declined to 13.7 percent from 25.3 percent.

Despite the relative improvement, there is still a particularly high rate of empty stores in Kallithea (39.3 percent) and Peristeri (30.6 percent), while Kifissia saw a deterioration, with the rate for 2014 at 23 percent compared to 16.1 percent in 2013.

Piraeus also recorded a rise, from 32.3 percent in 2013 to 34.9 percent, in Thessaloniki there was a small decline from 28.8 percent to 26 percent, while in Patra the rate remained unchanged at 24 percent.