Retailers consider repeated lockdowns to be harmful for their enterprises, as scientists and government officials are considering in their private talks with businesspeople.
Speaking on Skai TV on Wednesday, government spokesman Stelios Petsas refused to rule out the possibility of a new lockdown in January, but he did say the restrictions may gradually be lifted from December 1, with retail commerce following the reopening of schools.
The retail market is asking for stores to be allowed to open as early as possible – so as to contain their Christmas turnover losses – and stay open even if there are even stricter measures than those implemented in May, when economic activity resumed gradually.
“We want retail commerce to stay open, even with tighter restrictions; after all, in spring, after the lockdown, we observed them perfectly,” the president of the Athens Traders’ Association, Stavros Kafounis, told Kathimerini.
What the market is asking the government for is a short-term plan for the Christmas period and a medium-term one until spring, and for it to provide these quickly so retailers can make their own plans.
The reason the retail industry wants stores open, without any more lockdown periods in January or February, is because that is the time of the winter sales. There are already huge stocks of unsold merchandise on shelves and in backrooms, while much of the market will miss out on the opportunity provided by the Black Friday sales, on November 27 this year, and definitely within the November lockdown.
Secondly, retailers will also be burdened by the considerable cost of redressing their windows and decorating their internal and external spaces – and it would be especially painful for them if they were to be forced into another lockdown after going to the effort. The major retail chains, in particular, also face the major cost of advertising, which would turn out to be pointless after a sudden lockdown decision.
Referring to food catering, Petsas stated on Wednesday that the government’s planning provides for the resumption of its operation too before Christmas, without ruling out increased restrictions to the working hours of restaurants and cafés.