ECONOMY

Restructuring almost complete in commerce

Greek commerce expects fewer stores to shut down next year, though not because they anticipate an economic rebound, but due to the feeling that the clearout in the sector is approaching its completion.

According to the annual report by the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), presented on Monday, the redrawing of the country’s commercial map due to the financial crisis is in its final stage and the majority of the enterprises that were bound to fold have already done so; it is only healthy enterprises that have adjusted in time to the new conditions.

In the context of this “adjustment” lie drastic cuts in jobs in commerce and changes in labor relations, with flexible and part-time work fast gaining ground at the expense of full employment.

The ESEE report suggested that entrepreneurs themselves believe that closure chances have got smaller for 2013, with some 80 percent seeing a closure as unlikely, up from 63 percent a year earlier.

The picture is much darker in employment in the sector, as out of the 363,191 jobs lost within one year (or 1,000 jobs per day) in the whole of the economy, commerce accounted for 26.5 percent, or 96,500 jobs, even exceeding job losses in the construction sector that used to lead in this category.

“Even when the rebound starts, we will have the jobless growth phenomenon for a long time, and a big part of the workforce will have to learn how to get back to working,” said Apostolos Dedousopoulos, a Panteion University professor and one of the report’s authors.

Commerce saw over 100,000 full-time jobs wiped out, dropping from 729,790 last year to 629,659 this year, while part-time jobs grew by over 6,600, form 43,064 to 49,691.

Another major quantitative shift is that commerce is losing its most dynamic human resources, as most job losses concern the age group below 40 years. “The fact that commerce is no more an employment solution for women or for the young has multiplying consequences,” said Iosif Hassid, a Piraeus University professor and coordinator of the report.

Three out of every five companies said they delay payments, deeming their inability to respond to their obligations as quite likely or very likely.