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Christ is risen modestly in Greece

12 April 2015 / 16:04:28  GRReporter
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‘It was better last year’ has become the catchphrase in the retail sector. Shrinking incomes, rising prices as well as negative attitudes fuelled by the continuing uncertainty have resulted in a new drop in volumes during the Easter holidays. This year’s holiday period is strongly reminiscent of the 2012 situation as a result of the shaky economy.

The crippled liquidity of private companies, as well as the activation of the Grexit scenarios, although they are mostly disproved, have increased the sense of insecurity and affected both the appetite for shopping and tourism. There is talk among retailers about a 20% slump of revenues compared with 2014, which was another year of reduced purchasing power. The times when hotels were filled to capacity weeks before Easter seem long gone, with domestic tourism having shrunk dramatically over the past five years.

Despite hopes to the contrary, the Greeks will spend yet another Easter in recession. Wages continue to decline, unemployment is at a staggering 26%. Easter bonuses, which once were a strong spending and travel incentive, are now only the privilege of full-time employees in the private sector. But they have been patchy even there, and giving them has not warranted the timely payment of salaries. In January 2015, retail turnover was negative for the fourth consecutive month. Although Elstat, the Greek statistical office, has not yet published data for February and March 2015, retailers believe the downward trend is continuing, and this became evident both at Easter and during the discounts.

The market was dealt another blow by the prices of basic foodstuffs featured at the Easter table, which went higher compared to last year. At the same time, the prices of clothing, footwear, toys and confectionery have remained unreasonably high.

Travel for tourism has also been sluggish. One reason is that this year's Easter came earlier while the weather is still chilly. A market survey conducted by Kathimerini has shown that, even at the beginning of Holy Week, it was easy to find a hotel room over the internet in popular tourist destinations.

On the other hand, revenues of airlines have seen a hefty boost, with more passengers flying during the Easter holidays this year. It might sound like a bad joke, but this increase is largely due to travellers being worse off. Air travel, particularly if booked well in advance, is usually cheaper than travelling by sea or road. Increased flying at the expense of sea travel has been a consistent trend for a while. In turn, driving has been inhibited by high petrol prices and tolls.

Tags: Easter retail revenues prices tourism travel
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