November 2012 proved to be the worst month on record for retail commerce, as the sector’s sales volume index – expressed in prices that do not include inflation, came to just 64.9 points, the lowest since 2000, according to data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
The ongoing recession combined with the huge uncertainty in November regarding the disbursement of the bailout tranche resulted in the market freezing up. Sales shrank to such an extent during that month that the annual percentage decline for turnover was in the double digits even for supermarkets.
ELSTAT’s retail commerce turnover index fell by 16.6 percent in November from the same month in 2011, against a 6.4 percent reduction a year earlier. The sales volume index showed a similar contraction, sliding 16.8 percent against an 8.9 percent drop a year earlier. In total, over the January-November period last year the turnover index shrank by 11.3 percent from the year before and the sales volume index gave up 12.6 percent.
The crisis has affected all retail sectors, as ELSTAT figures point to a significant decline even among supermarkets, whose sales volume index posted a 13.3 percent annual contraction in November, which shows that households are now curtailing expenditure even on basic needs. The volume index for other food stores posted a 6.5 percent decline.
The reduction in use of private cars, as recorded in other surveys, is confirmed by the ELSTAT data on retail trade: The volume index for fuel stations declined by 16.6 percent in November from the same month in 2011.
The drop for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics was even greater, reaching 20.2 percent. Book and stationery stores saw volumes slide 13.3 percent, apparel stores posted a 21.2 percent drop and furniture outlets suffered a 29.1 percent deterioration; those stores appear to have recorded the highest number of enterprise closures. The only retail sector to have escaped major losses was that of department stores, whose sales volume declined by just 2.2 percent on a yearly basis in November 2012.
ELSTAT’s comparable figures only stretch back to January 2000, and both the data for November 2012 and those for the January-November period are the lowest recorded in those 13 years. The volume index remained below the 80-point mark in all 11 months of 2012 that ELSTAT published data for.