ECONOMY

Consumers cut down on basic commodities

March 2012 was the worst month in terms of sales volume for retail trade in Greece, according to data released on Thursday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).

With the 2005 volume set as the base level (100) for the retail trade volume index, ELSTAT said the index declined to 69.6, that is the worst since at least 2000. On a yearly basis, retail turnover contracted by 15.1 percent in March against a 13.3 percent drop in March 2011 from the year before.

Detailed data reveal that Greek consumers have cut down on some basic commodities, such as food, medicine and fuel.

Major food stores such as supermarkets saw turnover slump by 11.4 percent, while the sales volume declined by 12.5 percent year-on-year. Gas stations reported an 18.4 percent annual decrease in turnover as more and more Greeks are leaving their cars at home. Pharmaceutical product sales registered a 10.5 percent yearly decline. Houseware stores fared even worse, as their turnover shrank in March by 20.5 percent, while apparel outlets saw their turnover diminish by 15.6 percent. Even department stores that had contained losses saw turnover drop by 12.1 percent.