ATHENS – The third COVID-19 lockdown in Greece that will keep closed non-essential businesses – even barring click-and-collect schemes to pick up outside stores – could see half the businesses in the country close.
That was the dire warning from Giorgos Karanikas, President of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) who said many small companies already closed half the previous year can’t take the shock.
He said they suffered irrecoverable losses for Easter 2020 during a hard lockdown and again during Black Friday and the Christmas period and now the rest of a winter sales period, too much for many to likely survive.
He said the New Democracy government’s wavering between tough and more lenient measures hadn’t helped the companies keep going and with restaurants, bars and taverns taking brutal hits, many set to close for good.
He said the second lockdown that began Nov. 7, 2020 and didn’t work to hold down the pandemic also didn’t help businesses staggered by the loss of revenues they can’t recoup.
Adding to the misery, he said, is the unsold inventory of winter goods that is piled in warehouses and can’t be sold and uncertainty about taking on spring goods as well as the pandemic hits a first year and is rolling on.
Stavros Kafounis, President of the Athens Traders Association, told Kathimerini that, “Stores should never have closed. They should operate using the click-inside (shopping by appointment) system with the setting of time and location restrictions so as to reduce movement and avoid people abusing the opportunity to shop.”
Another retail professional not named told the paper that, “The market needs routine, continuity. What has been happening recently kills everything off,” saying the government should have provided a long-term plan to let people buy online and make appointments for pickups outside stores as before.
Other businesses said that time limits on shopping would have also helped as well as a countdown app on smartphones as well as feature phones which the office for Commerce and Consumer Protection was working on, vetoed by Mitsotakis who said it would violate privacy rights of users.