Consumption down 18.8 pct since 2009, jobs 22.2 pct

A joke is making the rounds among local shopkeepers: “The largest store chain at the moment in Greece is called For Lease.”

Although the drop in turnover seems to be easing during the current sales season, it is certain that more shops will have shut for good come October. Indeed, a recent survey showed that four out of 10 businesspeople consider it likely they will close down in the near future.

According to data compiled by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), private consumption has dropped 18.48 percent since 2009, while turnover in February was down to 2002 levels, or about 11 percent lower than a year earlier. Even supermarkets are reporting double-digit drops.

In the first half of the year, total employment in commerce stood at 650,000, or 6.2 percent less than a year earlier, but the cumulative decline since 2009 has been 22.2 percent.

Commerce accounts for about one-fifth of the country’s jobs.