ECONOMY

Grocers hit out at big retail chains

The Panhellenic Association of Grocers and Minimarket Owners yesterday accused both retailers and the government of grandstanding, with the former also wanting to steal market share at the expense of small retailers, but adding that it will participate in the effort to keep prices down. Large retailers, starting with Carrefour, have declared that they will freeze prices at least until the end of the year to help combat inflation, which was growing at a 3.3 percent rate at the end of August. The association’s president, Leonidas Kariyiannis, told reporters that the whole effort does not aim at keeping prices low since «price rises have already taken place,» but at «redistributing market share and the long-term increase of the large retailer chains which will be assured by driving small shops out of business.» The association distributed a statement declaring that «using the price freeze as an alibi, an attempt is being made to hurt small and medium-sized shops that have neither a PR department nor privileged access to the ministries, but which manage to maintain a balance in retail prices, despite the wishes of the (retail) chains.» «We hope that the prize for the price freeze will not be a deregulation in opening hours, as Carrefour is persistently demanding,» the statement continued. Kariyiannis said that 12,000 of the nominally registered 32,000 groceries across the country are currently open. He added that 10-15 multinational companies representing 30 percent of total supermarket sales are selling their products in Greece at prices from 20 to 60 percent higher than in other European Union countries and that big retailers have raised their prices since early March by up to 16 percent.