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One-Third of Athens Shops Close

A census of all downtown Athens businesses on March 2014 found that out of 6,377 of businesses operating in downtown Athens, 1,986 are closed. That's 31.2%.

Talk of recovery has been in the forefront of financial analysts inside Greece and abroad, but according to data being released in the last few months, businesses have yet to feel the good graces of growth. With bank loans still at a minimum and recession still hitting customers hard, the trend of lost business has yet to come around.

The latest of data released today, comes from the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce. They took a census of all downtown Athens businesses on March 2014 and found that out of 6,377 of them, 1,986 are closed. That is an alarming number, corresponding with 31.2% of all businesses.

Now, if one wants to see the glass half full, they can point towards the outcome of the September 2013 census, according to which out of 6,377 businesses, 2,072 were closed in the center of the city. That was the 32.4% of them.

Statistically, the majority of shut down businesses in Athens is in the so called “traditional center” of the capital, between Omonoia and Syntagma square. In surrounding streets Panepistimiou, Stadiou, Charilaou Trikoupi and Benaki streets, the situation is dire, to say the least.

In Panepistimiou street, 35% of businesses are closed, in Stadiou street, the figure is at 36%, in Charilaou Trikoupi it's at a staggering 51% and in Benaki street at 40%. This suggests that the recession has hit the center of the city harder than any other area in Attica.

There is no doubt that the so called Greecovery is a long way away – at least until the results start reflecting the status of business functions, but there is another element to consider. Downtown Athens businesses have been in trouble long before the recession hit them. Daily habits of people living outside city limits, destitute immigrants moving in and malls built in the suburbs have taken customers away from the downtown market, which flourished in the late 1970s and early 1980s.