ECONOMY

Stores fear a third lockdown

stores-fear-a-third-lockdown

The retail market is holding its collective breath ahead of the prospect of brick-and-mortar stores having to close again. If this happens, it will be the killing blow for thousands of enterprises, leading to permanent closures and definitive job losses.

The turnover recorded during the last 11 days that stores have opened for is in no way enough to offset the losses of the previous period, while obligations are accumulating and the support measures of the second lockdown are perceived as less favorable than those during the first.

What retailers say privately as well as publicly is that before the government makes any decision to suspend the operation of shops, it should exhaust all means of containment in other sectors, such as supermarkets, and consider the imposition of local restrictions instead of nationwide ones.

The government has already prepared a special mechanism in the General Secretariat of Commerce’s e-katanalotis app that will activate a countdown when a consumer goes out shopping.

Kathimerini understands the government has identified a way for the system to apply not only to smartphones but also to feature phones, which are mainly used by older consumers, preventing the renewal of the two-hour period. Although the market is in favor of that, along with Development Ministry officials, the prime minister is yet to give it the green light.

The president of the Athens Traders Association, Stavros Kafounis, sent a letter to Minister Adonis Georgiadis in favor of time and locality restrictions. He had previously told a press conference that a third lockdown would see one in two retail enterprises shut down for good.

The head of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Enterprises (ESEE), Giorgos Karanikas, told Kathimerini of the risk of job losses and store shutdowns, while stressing that locking retail stores down again will have a very negative effect on public revenues too.