Spring sales lacking promise


Spring sales start on Thursday in Attica and across most of the country amid low expectations of a recovery in the shrinking retail market.

Coming just days after the Easter holidays, and running through May 15, the spring sales are also being faced with trepidation by traders who are worried about the timing. Even during Easter, which is a major holiday for Greeks, results were below expectations, as turnover suffered a fresh decline, according to market estimates.

Vassilis Korkidis, the head of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says that throughout the capital retail turnover posted an annual drop between 4 and 6 percent, which translates into losses of 100-150 million euros.

Retail commerce has been in decline since the start of the year: According to figures from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), turnover dropped in January and February by 2.3 percent from a year earlier. In sales volume terms the decline was even greater, amounting to 2.9 percent in January and 3.3 percent in February. Korkidis estimates that the drop eased to an annual rate of 2.5 percent in March, with the official figures expected by ELSTAT in end-May.

Consumers wanting to make the most of the mid-season sales will also have the opportunity to shop this Sunday, when stores have the option of staying open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. This weekend also marks the first during which stores can be open every Sunday through October 27 (except for August 11) in specific parts of the country: These include the Municipality of Athens, the commercial park of Athens airport, central Thessaloniki, and parts of Piraeus and the southern Athens suburbs of Kallithea, Palaio Faliro, Alimos, Elliniko and Glyfada. The same will apply to areas with a lot of tourist activity.

However, traders are growing increasingly concerned that the mid-season sales (in May and November) do not have the impact originally expected, even after they were expanded from 10 to 15 days, and see little benefit from opening on the first Sunday of the sales windows.