ATHENS – Greek store owners who will be open the pre-Christmas Sundays of Dec. 17 and Dec. 24 as now allowed by law said they want protection from protester they fear could become violent, as the government has barred stores from opening on Boxing Day on Dec. 26, as some wanted to do.
Protesters along with many workers, don’t want stores to be open on Sundays, a requirement the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition had to accept as part of reforms attached to a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($101.69 billion).
The Hellenic Retail Business Association (SELPE), in a statement, asked for businesses to be protected on Sunday openings.
“Since everyone’s concern is sticking to law and order and keeping the peace, we are asking the Greek state and all entities involved to act as required so as to safeguard order and secure a peaceful atmosphere at stores on the coming Sundays (December 17, 24 and 31) across the country.”
The group said that, “The biggest problem law-abiding enterprises face is not just the number of Sundays when they are allowed to open, but which among them can operate without being illegally prevented from doing so.”
The legal provision allowing stores in Athens and other areas in Greece to open every Sunday from May to October (except for the second Sunday of August) is only partially implemented as many shopkeepers fear that protesters will cause trouble.
The stores that did open every Sunday in September and October – mainly retail chains – saw a decent increase in business, they said.
But they won’t be allowed to open the day after Christmas, the Boxing Day holiday, per an edict from Labor Minister Effie Achtsioglou, shutting down plans by the major mall McArthurGlen’s Athens location to open its doors.
The ministry’s statement said that the compulsory holiday was “a fixed demand of employee representatives,” though the government didn’t order it in 2015 or 2016.