Greek consumers are rediscovering the benefits of saving money, indicating both a slight improvement in household finances and a shift from the extreme consumerism of the pre-crisis years.
This is reflected in the third-quarter consumer confidence index compiled by Nielsen across 60 countries. Asked what they do with the money left after covering their basic needs, 30 percent of Greeks said they save, which ranks top among their responses. In the same survey conducted in the first quarter of the year, the rate of those who said they saved the money remaining had come to 25 percent, while two years ago it was just 20 percent.
At the same time another 30 percent said they have no money left after covering their basic needs, which while high is still below the percentage of those who gave the same response in 2013 (34 percent) and 2012 (36 percent).
The second most popular use of disposable cash was for the repayment of loans, credit cards and other debts (28 percent against 31 percent in the first quarter), followed by vacation spending (22 percent against 20 percent a year earlier), going out and entertainment (21 percent from 18 percent in 2013), high-tech gadgets (17 percent from 13 percent in 2013) and home repair and decoration (12 percent). Two percent said they spend their extra cash on a supplementary pension program while 1 percent invest in stocks.
The return to the habit of saving and the decision by a greater percentage of consumers to spend more on vacations and entertainment are reflected in the consumer confidence index, which reached up to 56 points in the third quarter of the year, up one point from the April-June period. The index posted a rise for a third consecutive quarter, with men and young people being the most optimistic population groups.
Nevertheless, the perception that the country is in recession and will also be next year was greater in Q3 than in the previous quarter. Job security continues to be the biggest concern (47 percent), growing by five percentage points from the second quarter of the year, followed by worries about the broader economy, debts and health.
The long-term recession has resulted in Greeks changing their buying habits more than any other European consumers.
Five in every seven Greeks (71 percent) have turned to cheaper consumer products in order to reduce their household expenses, while most they have reduced spending on going out (70 percent), apparel purchases (67 percent) and ready meals (60 percent).