by Dimitra Manifava
In its third post-bailout assessment published last week, the European Commission revealed an eightfold increase in card transactions in areas of Greece where stores are open most Sundays compared to the period before measures allowing shops to open on Sundays were introduced.
In those areas there was also considerable growth in the share of transactions conducted by cards issued abroad, which is a sign that stores that open on Sundays attract tourists in particular.
In its report, Brussels cites a survey conducted in January by the Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE), while noting that there were limitations in the availability of data and that in 2018 there was a general economic recovery.
The increase in the value of card transactions on Sundays in the areas affected by the aforementioned measures (such as the City of Athens, where stores are allowed to open every Sunday from May to October) was 711 percent in the 2016-18 period. The total increase in credit and debit card transactions in the same areas was 175 percent. This shows that the measures have drawn the interest of consumers despite complaints by shopkeepers.
The share of card transactions made with foreign cards was 38.1 percent in 2018, up from 24.5 percent in 2017 and 23.3 percent in 2016.
The Commission’s report also referred to other positive signs from the expansion of business hours, concerning entrepreneurship as well as prices.
The study showed there were 847 more new companies in retail commerce than those that shut down in the first year to show a positive trend after remaining in negative territory from 2009 to 2017. In the retail sectors most affected by Sunday opening (apparel, toys, sports goods, software, electronic appliances, cosmetics etc) there were an additional 320 enterprises in 2018.
KEPE identified a further decline in prices in three categories of goods and services affected by Sunday opening in both 2017 and 2018 despite the increase in the inflation rate: They were apparel, domestic appliances and culture and entertainment activities.
This article was originally published at ekathimerini.com.