Consumers cut down on food and fuel

Consumers have been forced to cut down on spending including food items, while people are making ever fewer visits to gas stations these days, according to data released on Monday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on the first 11 months of 2010.

ELSTAT?s retail trade volume index (sales turnover at fixed retail prices, including gas stations), declined by about 12 percent in November 2010 from the same month in 2009.

Major supermarkets saw their sales drop by 8.8 percent on an annual basis, while gas stations saw a decline of 10.7 percent. The biggest blow apparently was sustained by shops selling electrical goods, furniture and homewares, as they saw their turnover plummet by 26.6 percent in November from a year earlier.

The apparel sector also suffered as it experienced a 17 percent decline in sales, while department stores saw a general fall in sales that came to 13.1 percent in November.

In the first 11 months of 2010 the general volume index declined by 4.7 percent compared with the same period in 2009. Department stores suffered a significant 10.9 percent drop. Furniture and homeware stores had a 10.3 percent drop, apparel shops witnessed a 9.9 percent fall and supermarkets had a 4 percent decline on an annual basis.

The same trend continued in December and into the first couple of weeks of the winter sales, which started on January 15. Market observers note that the sales volume has declined by 20 percent at the start of the sales period from the same time in 2010, with traders adding that shops in the center of Athens are suffering a drop of 40 percent in trade on days when all means of public transport are on strike.

As a result the market estimates that the winter sales will be unable to turn things around for retailers, even though there are four more weeks until the end of the sales period.