By Dimitra Manifava
Up until a few years ago, foreign tourists visiting Athens hardly did any shopping apart from picking up a souvenir from Plaka or the Acropolis Museum. Most of them only spent a few hours in the Greek capital, squeezing in a visit to the Acropolis before jumping on a ferry to their island destination.
However, the recent transformation of the city into a destination in itself – a trend which seems set to strengthen – makes investments by business groups not only in hotels but also in retail – with an emphasis on luxury brands – that much more attractive, not to mention necessary.
This is the precise direction that Attica Department Stores SA is taking; it is planning a new scheme to be created with the participation of shipping and hotel groups, which will be in a position to reach agreements with major foreign high-prestige brands that want to establish a presence at the new commercial development in Hellenikon, southern Athens and potentially in malls elsewhere. Lamda Development’s plan for Hellenikon already includes the construction of two malls within the first five years, of 30,000 sq. m. and 72,000 sq.m.
The expansion of the Attica Department Stores mall at City Link in central Athens, by another 4,000 sq.m., is expected to be completed by end-2020. This will give luxury brands in Athens another boost.
High-prestige firms have also seen their exposure expand via discount outlets, with most of the new stores recently opened at the McArthurGlen discount village at Spata, eastern Attica, belonging to the luxury brand category, such as Boss Womenswear and Zeus+Dione, with Samsonite set to follow suit.
Golden Hall, in northern Athens, recently welcomed the first Georg Jensen store, one of the most famous Danish jewelry brands.
This new lease of life for retail activity in Athens, largely thanks to the growth of tourism, is also reflected in the data compiled by the Institute of Commerce and Services of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Enterprises (INEMY-ESEE): In September it recorded one of the lowest store closure rates for the center of Athens. The provisional data from the latest survey show just 25.58 percent of stores closed, down from 26.25 percent in March 2019. Six years ago that rate had stood at 32.3 percent.
This article was originally published at ekathimerini.com.