Retail stores in downtown Athens ranked high in the sales period which ended Saturday, but shop owners outside the capital reported disappointing figures, according to survey data released yesterday. A phone survey conducted between August 23 and 25 by the Athens Traders’ Association (ESA) on 180 stores showed that turnover for retailers in the city center during the six-week sales period rose 54 percent in comparison with last year. Athens shop owners outside the center said their turnover remained at the same level as last year. But stores outside Athens failed to draw customers, reporting that their earnings had dipped by as much as 56 percent from 2004. Based on turnover levels, consumers took advantage of the cheaper prices this year, mainly at clothing stores. Stores with home-related items were among the bottom picks, with 56 percent of those shops saying turnover this year had dropped since last year.