A significant number of entrepreneurs in retail commerce were forced to become employees in the years of the financial crisis, as the reduction in demand – and consequently in sales and profits – resulted in many company closures.
A great deal of former owners of small commercial enterprises who did not go on to launch a new business, or were unable to retire, sought work as salary workers in the same sector. Some who were close to retirement resorted to part-time or temporary employment in order to secure the necessary number of days worked to be able to qualify for a full pension.
According to the annual report by the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Enterprises (ESEE), the number of people employed in retail commerce dropped from 569,239 in 2009 to 508,009 in 2019 – i.e. a 10.75 percent reduction. At the peak of the crisis in 2012, the number of those employed in retail commerce dropped below 500,000 – until 2018, when they rose back above that threshold. Last year that figure rose above where it had stood before the onset of the crisis.
The rate of decline in the numbers of both employers and the self-employed has been far greater. That, combined with the increase in salary workers in retail, is a sign of the concentration of the sector within fewer, larger enterprises. As a result, in 2019, the number of employers in retail commerce came to just 54,847, against 63,911 a decade earlier – a decline of 14.18 percent.
The picture among the self-employed is even worse, as the crisis has inflicted a huge blow to very small commercial enterprises: In 2019 their figure declined to 121,538 from 172,214 in 2009, a drop of about 30 percent.