The Athens Traders’ Association (ESA) is calling on shops to begin their winter sales as of tomorrow, despite the law that provides for sales to start on January 22 and end on February 25, satisfying the traders’ original proposal. ESA President Panagis Karelas said yesterday that shops in Athens will be offering discounts at cash registers until the legitimate sales period begins, as 80 percent of shopkeepers would rather have sales earlier this year. «We are not asking for an extension to the sales period, but for dates to be brought forward so that sales can start on January 10,» said Karelas, adding that the Development Ministry is also looking into this demand. Shopkeepers should not display the prices before and after the discount (as the law dictates during sales), but deduct the relevant percentage off at the register. He claimed that this solution would avoid the application of unpunishable methods such as offers which some enterprises resort to. However, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou stressed that although ESA may change its views on the dates issue, «it is wrong in inviting its members to break the existing law.» He went on to explain that the government and the traders had agreed on clauses in the law and their application for two years (including this year) before they proceeded to any changes scheduled to take effect from next year. «The law is valid and will be applied. In any case, the traders’ associations of the whole country and the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) ought to form a common position, and not agree with us at first and then go ahead and do otherwise,» said Papathanassiou. The vice president of ESA, Sotiris Antoniou, yesterday presented the findings of an opinion poll among 1,044 Athens shopkeepers which shows that 79.89 percent of them want sales to start on January 10, 19.25 percent opt for the dates for which the law provides and 0.86 percent say they are not affected by sales dates. Last year those who wanted the sales to start earlier totaled 56 percent. Athens’s traders also want shops to be open for one more Sunday in December and another Sunday at the start of each sales period (January and July).