In southern Europe, where the economic crisis has hit hardest, sales were down over Christmas, in some cases quite substantially, according to an informal Reuters survey. In Greece, whose economy has been shrinking for five years, retail turnover in December is expected to have fallen by about one fifth compared to a year ago, according to Vassilis Korkidis, chairman of the country’s retail trade association.
“Unfortunately, yet another year has been marked by poor Christmas sales. I hope that 2013 will put an end to the economic war we have been fighting for five straight years now,» Korkidis told a Greek television station.
Athens’s main shopping streets were buzzing with people before Christmas. But many shopkeepers complained that families merely came for a walk to enjoy the warm, sunny weather.