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Crisis in Greek taverns as well

29 March 2010 / 12:03:06  GRReporter
2652 reads

Victoria Mindova

Financial stagnation and the new economic reality in Europe led to a decline in turnover also in classical Greek taverns. Traditional restaurants, places with heritage from the ancient Greeks and the sea beach are part of the country's trademark. All year-round streams of tourists and locals enjoy souvlaki (kebabs), gyro and traditional salads with feta by filling taverns until the small hours of the night. 

This familiar picture, however, is slowly starting to change in recent times. Many Greek families prefer to gather around the family table in the comfort of their own home, because their budget does not allow monthly squandering in taverns. "Until a year or two ago I used to gather my whole family on Sunday at least once a month in our favorite neighborhood tavern and with friends we used to meet two or three times a month outside to eat and talk. Now things have changed," says an older woman, mother of two children and proud grandmother of four grandchildren for GRReporter. She said that before prices in taverns were normal and going out to eat with friends or family was never considered a luxury. "Prices have increased a lot recently, they cancelled the small pension I was receiving from my husband and now I hear that they want to cut my pension as well. Even at old age habits can change," she admits. The deepening recession in Greece and the general decline in living standards inevitably affect the social habits in the country. 

Not less stressed are also tavern owners, who recently reported a substantial fall in turnover. The main problems are the VAT increase and excise on fuel, which affect the final wholesale price of basic products. Notwithstanding the recent introduction of emergency measures by the PASOK government, private entrepreneurs are unwilling to further raise prices because as manager of a small tavern on Monastiraki Square bitterly says “customers will just stop coming." He explains that even tourists who visit the old center of Athens have changed. The man admits that due to the central location of the tavern they will always have work, but turnover is definitely lower, and profit is also declining due to higher expenditure. "Our main clientele are tourists. Unlike previous years, now they rarely choose to sit at a table. They prefer to get something in hand, because prices are cheaper. And if they decide to sit down their orders are not as big as before," he says. 

Unfortunately, problems in the service sector are not confined only to the turnover reductions. With the new season comes the period of seasonal work and for many Greeks this is an important income. The results from the lack of spare funds, shrunk tourist flow and reduced clientele will limit the appointment of seasonal workers and enhance the already increasing unemployment in the country.

Tags: Greece Economy VAT measures taverns crisis
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