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Sofia shopkeepers oppose Vitosha Blvd. closure

Date: 13.01.2006

The shopkeepers on Sofia's posh Vitosha Boulevard and the citizens living there will send the municipality a protest note on Thursday, against the closure of the street that was turned pedestrian in the end of 2005 by mayor Boyko Borissov.

The turnover from the Vitosha shops has dropped about four times since the closure, shopkeepers complain. They also rebel against the fact that closing the boulevard for all vehicles except for the public trams has made their stocking immensely harder.

Most of the 130 shops along the pricy boulevard have backed up the protest, including brands like Pepe Jeans, Max&Co, Terranova, Sisley, Oxette, United Colors of Benetton, Salamander and others.

Shopkeepers are seriously worried and claim that they haven't had a worse season than this year's Christmas, because their sales plunged down rapidly after the boulevard was made pedestrian. The January sales are four to five times lower than in previous years and the cafes barely make a quarter of what they used to, owners sigh.

Apart from that, restocking is a serious issue because the vehicles can not reach the stores. Now the staff either has to drag boxes for about a kilometer, or wait until nighttime to restock. Some foreign brands are even asking if a military state of emergency had been announced, a shop owner is quoted as saying in Dnevnik daily newspaper.

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