ECONOMY

Car sales moving up a gear after long and painful slowdown

Car sales in Greece have gathered pace in recent months, following a long slowdown that had resulted in the closure of more than 1,000 dealerships and the loss of an estimated 11,500 jobs.

August recorded a 20.8 percent increase in the number of cars circulating on Greek roads for the first time, mainly as a result of demand for corporate vehicles as well as the slow but steady improvement in consumer confidence.

Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data showed that 5,862 vehicles made their first trips on Greek roads last month, of which 4,016 were new. This compares with 4,854 new and recently imported used cars in August 2013, when there was a 6.5 percent decline from August 2012.

Over the first eight months of 2014 a total of 68,888 vehicles made their debuts on Greek roads – comprising 51,779 new and 17,109 imported used cars – against 54,010 in the same period in 2013, representing a yearly increase of 27.5 percent. In the January-August 2013 period there had been a 3 percent annual decline from 2012.

Out of all the new cars sold in the year to end-August, 54 percent were corporate vehicles, mainly purchased by tourism enterprises, while the remaining 46 percent comprised sales to private buyers.

Of course the growth seen within 2014 hasn’t brought car sales in Greece back to the levels seen before the crisis. From the 20,954 people employed by national importers and distributors in November 2008, the number dropped to just 9,532 in May 2014. This means that employment in the sector has shrunk by 54.5 percent in five-and-a-half years. In fact the resulting job losses in the market are even greater as that figure does not include those who lost their jobs at car repair shops.