The first three months of this year proved to be one of the worst quarters ever for the supermarket sector in Greece, as the value of sales declined by 7.8 percent from the same period in 2015.
The drop was not the result of any drastic cut in prices, with data showing a marginal increase in this area; the real reason was the fall in demand, as sales volume posted an 8.6 percent drop compared to the first quarter of 2015. Consumers are cutting down on even the most basic of commodities, ranging from milk to washing powder.
Market researcher firm IRI showed that the downward trend that started in the second half of 2015 gathered speed in the first quarter of this year. Sales value fell 6 percent in January year-on-year, followed by an 8.3 percent drop in February and topped by an 8.8 percent slump in March: This constitutes the biggest annual decline in turnover for a single month since January 2013, when the collection of comparable data started.
Sales volume data are even more worrying for the future of retail businesses in Greece: In March supermarkets saw their sales volume shrink by 13.5 percent year-on-year, which was also the biggest drop in one month recorded since 2013. In February the drop was 11.7 percent and in January 11.2 percent.
The sales slump spanned all three major categories of products at supermarkets. Turnover dropped further in food, shrinking by 8.4 percent in the first quarter of 2016 from last year, while in personal hygiene and cosmetics turnover fell 5.6 percent and in household products it shrank 5.4 percent.
Sales volume in food plummeted a remarkable 13 percent in Q1, while in household items it dropped 9.8 percent and in personal hygiene and cosmetics it shrank 6.4 percent on an annual basis.
A decline in the consumption of alcoholic beverages, refreshments and snacks is quite predictable during a period of shrinking household incomes. However, the fall in the value and volume of sales in basic categories such as dairy products is quite striking: Dairy goods saw their sales volume lose 10.9 percent from Q1 2015, and sales value fell 8.9 percent. Packaged goods dropped 12.7 percent in volume.