December retail sales in Greece were once again disappointing, after retailers were expecting the busiest month of the year to curb the downward spiral of sales, a study shows.
The market turnover in the last month of the year, which traditionally is the one with the most consumption was significantly reduced. According to a survey by the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE), sales in the medium term decreased by an average of 17, 6%, and three out of four businesses said that December showed a lower turnover than the previous year.
The survey involved individual small and medium-sized retail stores and not retail chains and department stores.
Although the exact percentage of the slump remains to be confirmed by ELSTAT data for retail sales, it is certain that neither the improvement in growth to 1.5%, based on finance ministry data for the third quarter of the year nor the benefit of reduced unemployment to 23.1% was reflected in real economy figures.
The drop in retail sales, ESEE analysts said, is mainly attributed to the fact that Greeks had to pay 4 billion euros in taxes in the month of December, thereby their discretionary income was significantly reduced. At the same time, household savings continue to shrink as dues to the State increased significantly in 2016, sucking liquidity from the real economy.
The ESEE research was based on data from 83 chambers of commerce across the country, and shows that retail sales over the holidays this year showed a downward trend in the vast majority of areas. Three in four (76%) businesses had lower turnover levels than those of the previous year, about one in five (17%) recorded unchanged turnover and 7% of companies noted an increase in 2016 compared to the previous year.
Furthermore, 28% of businesses said that they saw a drop that was more than 40%, 12% to a range between 31% and 40%, while the remaining respondents said that the decrease was around 20%. Essentially, 4 out of 10 companies that had sales decline seem to have lost more than 30% of their turnover in one year.
According to statements by president of ESEE Vassilis Korkidis, the Black Friday sale implemented by all major retail chains and department stores was responsible to a large part to the drop in consumption in December. Also, another factor, he said, is that winter sales start immediately after the holiday season, thereby many consumers saved their money for the particular sales.
Korkidis said that among the sectors that recorded the largest decline in December is the clothing / footwear sector, with 88% of stores recording reduced sales.
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