ECONOMY

Shoppers unmoved by bargains at start of summer sales

Much as shop owners were hoping the start of the sales period would pique shoppers? interest, the first 10 days have proved them wrong, as the first unofficial assessments point to a significant decline compared to last summer.

Despite major discounts, which reach up to 70 percent, estimates put the drop in turnover at 10 to 15 percent from the same period last year as far as major retail chains are concerned and around 25 percent for small stores.

Antonis Makris, vice president of the Hellenic Retail Business Association, notes that consumers are justifiably reluctant to make purchases now as they are fully aware that they will have to pay new taxes to the state from the second half of August.

Athens Traders Association member Nikos Giannetos estimates that the summer sales period will end with a 20 percent drop on last year, with the decrease in demand over the last couple of years adding up to 30 percent.

He argues that the tense atmosphere in retail will only relax when the economy improves in general, while the prospect of growth in retail sales will remain a very distant one for a long time.

Savvas Hatzioannou, managing director at Sprider Stores, also speaks of a 20 percent drop in sales, predicting that things will become even worse in the latter half of the year, amid a ?war for market share among retail chains.? Sprider has announced it will close down three outlets in the coming months.