As of November 2021, shop owners with businesses in the historic center of Athens will have the option to remain open on Sundays, according to a decision published in the Government Gazette.
The new law, which goes into force in November 2021, follows consultation with trade groups and organizations and allows the operation of shops on all Sundays of the year and not only on those currently designated in the May-October period.
The new measure applies to stores in the popular tourist districts of Plaka, Monastiraki and around the Acropolis, and is based on similar decisions implemented in other European cities aimed at the development of tourism-related enterprise as well as at supporting small or medium-sized businesses which are for the most part family owned, the regional authority said.
Consultation and talks on the decision were held in July overseen by Central Athens regional unit officials, Athens trade and chamber representatives, as well as municipal police and local government authorities.
In 2017, the economy ministry had announced areas in the regions of Attica and Central Macedonia, where shops could operate on 32 Sundays a year from May to October.
However, the decision to keep shops open on all Sundays – among the demands of Greece’s international lenders as part of its debt relief deal – has repeatedly sparked the outrage of small and medium-sized enterprises as well as of larger supermarket chains.
On their part, the tourism and hospitality sectors insist that open shops will better promote city break destinations such as Athens. Last year, the Athens Traders Association (ESA) called on the government to draw up and implement a comprehensive shopping destination branding strategy if it wants to see revenues rise.