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Covid-19 Restrictions Taking Toll on Greek Retail

Coronavirus pandemic restrictions took a toll on Greece’s retail activity in 2020 when sales dropped by 15 billion euros impacting for the most part very small, small and medium-sized enterprises.

According to market professionals speaking to Greek daily Kathimerini, holiday turnover shrunk by 1.5 billion euros. Losses, they say, would have been greater had it not been for the implementation of the click away system.

Meanwhile, market stakeholders have repeatedly called on the government to take consistent measures as ongoing restrictions including curfews and total lockdowns are driving small and medium-sized businesses to despair.

Authorities shut down retail again this week after extending lockdown restrictions until January 11. The government is expected to announce the re-opening of shops operating only with click away in the coming period.

Retailers are also calling for the implementation of a click in shop option, which would allow consumers to enter the shop by appointment.

Speaking to Kathimerini, Hellenic Retail Business Association (SELPE) Deputy Vice President Antonis Zairis said the click away option should evolve into a “click in shop” practice, “as the contagiousness rate in retail is very low. The market must work, because the problems after the coronavirus will be multiple for businesses. Therefore, strictly adhering to the health protocols, a click in shop model needs to apply until the stores are fully opened”, he said.

Zairis expects 2020 losses to reach a total of 15 billion euros, while the lost turnover during the holidays is estimated at 1.5 billion euros. The impact of the pandemic on retail is great, he said, driving revenues into free fall. Indicatively, total turnover in retail in 2019 came to approximately 44 billion euros with market insiders seeing the 2020 figure at around 30 billion euros.

Speaking on MEGA television earlier this week, Secretary General for Trade and Consumer Protection Panagiotis Stampoulidis confirmed that click away store operations would resume on January 11. He went on to note that click in shop operations would be the next step “when the time is right”.

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