“One in two commercial businesses will not manage to recover [from the coronavirus crisis] and this confirms our estimation that a third national lockdown could be disastrous,” the Athens Traders Association (ESA) said on Monday.
The association presented the results of a survey conducted during the week that followed the reopening of retail shops and shopping malls in Greece (on January 18), when Greek authorities decided to ease the lockdown restrictions that had been taken to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The reopening of shops also marked the start of the winter sales period in Greece.
According to the survey’s main findings, 7 out of 10 businesses are struggling to survive, since they cannot cover the debts that have emerged since the start of the pandemic despite relief measures announced by Greek authorities.
Furthermore, 7 out of 10 shop owners said that during the first week of the winter sales period, their turnover decreased or remained at the levels of the corresponding period of 2019.
A total of 100 retail stores participated in the survey, with the majority (80 percent) belonging to the fashion industry (clothes, footwear, accessories) and 20 percent to other categories.
E-shops’ turnover on the rise
A large number of business owners who have been operating e-shops since the start of the pandemic said that a significant part of their turnover has emerged from online sales.
The survey also showed that the turnover of online shops increased by 15-35 percent compared to the corresponding period a year ago.
Meanwhile, the majority of shop owners (93 percent) said they had received aid in the form of “repayable advance” – an irrevocable, tax-free amount that cannot be offset against any debt.
“This proves that repayable advance is an effective financial tool for small and medium-sized enterprises,” ESA said.
Regarding other measures applied in retail:
– One in two respondents cite debt restructure and haircuts as the most important measure for the survival of businesses
– One in five think that the conversion of the repayable advance into non-repayable is the only way to survive
– 21 percent considers rent reduction until the end of the crisis as the most significant factor
– Only 7 percent of shop owners are calling for new financial tools to increase liquidity.
“The government should continue to support businesses during this crisis and bravely regulate and cut the financial obligations that have emerged so that businesses can survive and retain jobs. Today however, our primary goal is to maintain strict protection measures in order not to risk human lives, and for retail to become an example for other sectors that still remain closed,” ESA President Stavros Kafounis said.