September 24, 2012
Greece's deep recession has forced almost a third of businesses in the capital's commercial district to close down as shrinking incomes and frequent strikes drive Athenians away.
Tens of thousands of small businesses, which make up a big chunk of the struggling economy, have shut since Greece secured a 110-billion-euro bailout package in 2010 in exchange for promises of painful austerity measures.
On the capital's cobbled pedestrian shopping streets, long lines of shops are boarded shut while others have "Everything must go" signs plastered across their windows. Some arcades, once bustling with activity, are empty and enclosed by derelict buildings.
In the city's "commercial triangle", where generations of merchants had run successful businesses a stone's throw from the central Syntagma Square, an August census by retail lobby group ESEE found 31 percent of shops had closed.
That was up 13 percent from August 2010, just months after the government secured the first of two multi-billion euro international rescue packages.