Roundup: Greece's retailers, restaurants fret over economic toll amid lockdowns

ATHENS, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Many of the retailers and restaurants in Greece that have survived the country's financial crisis which started in 2009 are now at risk of perishing due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, representatives of the sectors told Xinhua recently.

With an average of more than 50 percent losses in turnover so far this year compared to 2019, up to 30 percent of businesses are at risk of putting up the shutters, they said.

As businesses were still trying to heal open wounds from the first lockdown in springtime, the second started on Nov. 7. Initially scheduled to end on Nov. 30, it was later extended to Dec. 7.

The cost of a full lockdown for a month on the Greek economy was estimated at about 2.5-3 percent losses of GDP by the finance ministry.

In the second quarter of 2020, the turnover of Greek enterprises and the activities of the economy as a whole stood at 59 billion euros (71 billion U.S. dollars). That's 25.1 percent fewer than the same period of 2019, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

The most affected sectors were accommodation-food service activities and art-entertainment, which saw a decline of 78.8 percent and 53.2 percent respectively. In retail, the drop was estimated at about 17.8 percent. The figures for the third quarter were expected to be similar.

"The second lockdown's impact on retail is expected to be massive. Its extent will depend on when and under which conditions shops will reopen the holiday season," Giorgos Karanikas, president of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), told Xinhua.

ESEE's institute's August estimate put the actual losses for small and medium-sized enterprises at about 50 percent on a year-on-year basis, he explained.

"Electronic sales cannot save the game for the market, since in our country only two in ten businesses have fully functional e-shops," Karanikas said. "Therefore, we believe that the coming months till springtime will be crucial and enterprises will need more targeted support measures by the state."

Andreas Andrianakis, President of the Association of Athens' Restaurateurs, acknowledged that the state has made efforts to support the economy through a series of measures so far this year, but feared it will not be enough to avoid a new wave of close-downs like the one Greece witnessed during the years of the financial crisis, when over 100,000 businesses closed their doors.

"The situation in the market today we would say is tragic. If it continues like this, with one lockdown after another, it will become irreversible for many businesses," he said. "I believe that generally the proper reopening of stores will come in March or April. Until then, we know that a big percentage of businesses will have closed down. They will not be able to survive due to loan debts."

Andrianakis added that the danger is imminent for about one-third of entrepreneurs.

On the other hand, the number of COVID-19 deaths registered per day is still high, officials stressed on Friday during a regular press briefing regarding the necessity to extend the lockdown.

On Saturday, the National Public Health Organization (EODY) announced 121 deaths within 24 hours. It set a new daily record and brought the country's death toll to 2,223.(1 euro = 1.2 U.S. dollars)

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