Supermarkets’ changing roles
In the 10 weeks up to May 3 – i.e. from the time the first coronavirus cases were announced in Greece up to just before the end of the lockdown – turnover at supermarkets in Greece reached a remarkable 1.5 billion euros.
Such high sales for the sector in such a short period of time were not only due to consumers stocking up on the basics in terms of food, cleaning products and personal hygiene items at the start of the crisis, but also thanks to the miscellaneous category of products including books, apparel, electrical appliances, toys and items related to gardening and home improvements that saw a rise in purchases during a period when all other retail businesses remained closed.
In other words, in the first few weeks of the lockdown supermarkets served as sources for supplies of food and other basic commodities and then obtained a supplementary role, that of other types of retail stores rolled into one.
According to data compiled by IRI researchers from February 24 to May 3, supermarket sales based on figures for fast-moving consumer goods (excluding meat, unpacked cheese, cold cuts, fish, fruit and vegetable) came to €1.43 billion. That means if all sales were included the total turnover would exceed €1.5 billion. These figures signify an increase of 24% compared to the same period in 2019, when turnover for fast-moving consumer goods had come to €1.15 billion.
The rise in sales in the first four months of the year because of the coronavirus resulted in the sector’s turnover posting a 15% advance from January-April 2019. It remains to be seen whether the fears of the sector’s entrepreneurs regarding a rise of just 2% for the entire 2020 prove correct. That estimate stems from the forecast for a considerable decline in sales over the second half of the year due to the anticipated recession and drop in disposable incomes.
The products with the highest annual growth over those 10 weeks were pharmaceutical equipment (468.7%), food supplements (342%), antiseptic wipes (276%), plain spirit (242.5%), wet hankies (228.6%), glue (185%), gloves (183.4%), cream soap (147.8%), children’s painting items (135.7%) and luncheon meat (126/9%).