Hopes of a busy Christmas shopping season have been left in ruins for many traders in Athens. It is feared shops and businesses in the capital have suffered up to one billion euros of damage. As well as arson, looting has been widespread with everything from jewellery to cat food disappearing from the shelves.
It is the final straw for Thanasis Ikospentaris whose clothes store was already suffering in the economic downturn. “They have completely destroyed me. I will now have to start again from zero, just like eight years ago,” he said. “We will not be able to work over Christmas,” added Nikos Pastas, describing the damage to his photographic shop as “huge.” “Of course we are going to have to reduce the staff. We can’t do otherwise.”
The government has pledged to help stricken businesses. But whatever compensation is offered, Greece’s long-term image as a holiday paradise has suffered a significant blow. And for those who rely on tourism in Athens, the financial pain of riots that even wrecked the city’s Christmas tree, could be felt for years to come.