Rise of Black Friday in Greece has little impact on total retail sales


Stores and consumers in Greece are gearing up for Black Friday – normally the last Friday of November, but on November 23 this year – as the shoppers’ “holiday” when many retailers reduce their prices and provide special offers has been embraced by the local market too.

Although it was only adopted from the US a few years ago, Black Friday has managed to help boost retailers’ turnover on that day each year. However, retail commerce turnover has only grown marginally over the last few years, and a number of small and large retailers have noted that Black Friday eats into turnover normally recorded in the runup to Christmas.

Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) figures show that retail store turnover for the whole of 2017 was 40.3 percent less than that recorded in 2008. Turnover in 2010 – the first year when Greece had a bailout program – was down 27.7 percent on that recorded two years earlier. That drop translates into a loss of billions of euros for the market since 2010, mainly due to the decline in private sector salaries and the high unemployment rate.

In 2015 – when Greece came to the brink of exiting the eurozone, banks shut down for more than three weeks and capital controls were imposed – the annual decline came to 2.8 percent from 2014. It was that year that Black Friday was first introduced here, initially only by the McArthurGlen discount village at Spata.

Another yearly decline was recorded in retail commerce turnover in 2016, this time of 2.1 percent, before an annual increase finally emerged in 2017 – the first in nine years – of 1.7 percent. This year’s data are not conclusive yet, with a rise in January to April and a slide in May to August, but the overall trend appears positive. Therefore the impact of Black Friday’s introduction to Greece has been minimal, if not negligible.

More importantly, technology commodities – the main focus of Black Friday promotional offers – show even more clearly that there has been no overall growth in turnover: In the last quarter of 2017 – which included Black Friday and the fall sales – sales in this sector increased by 1.6 percent from the previous year, according to data by GfK TEMAX. However, in 2017 as a whole, sales of tech goods declined 1.9 percent year-on-year.