The Fine Line Between Tradition, Lunacy, Socialism and Tourism
Its is with much sadness that I announce the end of an era. Now the law is that there is no law. There is no one set of hours any more. Retail stores can stay open as long as they want except on Sundays. So its pot luck people! The unions and tenured civil servants don't like this one bit either so more developments are expected. Still, this page will give you some idea of what to expect here on your Greece travels.
The Old Greece, much like Mexico and Spain, enjoyed the charming custom of traditional siestas every afternoon on working days all year; Monday thru Friday. Mostly due to the hot climate and continual sun in summer but carried over into the winter too, probably for the sake of continuity.
In Greece at least, that meant that stores opened at 8:30 am and closed at 1:30 pm and then re-opened at 5:00 pm and closed again at 8:00 PM. It was too stupifyingly hot to work, so siestas seemed to make sense to me, an American raised child visitor used to 9 to 5 schedules and cooler climes. This obviously doubled work commutes and consequent traffic jams from the git go.
There weren't 2,000,000 cars in Athens then and air-conditioned malls were unheard of, much less multi-national European chain stores like Carrefour, Praktiker, Continent and others. Heck they didn't even have TV till 1970.
As time went on, and Greece and the rest of Europe modernized, Athens' traffic got so bad that they decided to tweak the hours retail sotres could be open and shortened Thursdays and Saturdays hours to 8:30 - 3:00.
So now you had to remember what day was what.