ECONOMY

Alcohol sales nearly halved since 2008

The recession in Greece has led to a major decrease in the consumption of alcoholic beverages, particularly in bars, clubs and restaurants. Market estimates put the decline at up to 45 percent since the start of the recession in 2008.

Total consumption of alcoholic drinks in 2013 dropped below 1.2 million liters, from 2.26 million in 2008. Whiskey is reported to have suffered the greatest decline, followed by ouzo. However last year’s drop was considerably smaller than that seen in previous years.

A recent study on the sector by Infobank Hellastat showed that besides the general economic downturn, the decline in alcohol consumption is also a result of repeated hikes in taxation, as the special consumption tax on alcohol has grown by 125 percent since early 2009, reaching 25.50 euros per liter for imported spirits. Locally produced beverages have half that rate, at 12.75 euros/lt.

In fact production in Greece posted a 1 percent increase in 2013, reaching 1.68 million liters, thanks to the favorable impact that exports have had on the sector. It is mainly ouzo-producing companies that have benefited from overseas demand, protecting them to some degree from the domestic decline in consumption.