ECONOMY

Half a billion lost in 15 days

half-a-billion-lost-in-15-days

Half a billion euros was lost in just 15 days in the second half of March by businesses that were forced to shut due to the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus – and that amount only concerns companies with double-entry books that offer data on a monthly basis.

The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Tuesday that 205,984 enterprises suspended their operations. Turnover data are also discouraging for two more reasons: They point to an even worse decline in April, as until mid-March there was no lockdown, and the data show the sudden end of the economy’s recovery course, as the year had started with strong growth signs in the January-February data.

ELSTAT showed that the turnover of the companies with double-entry books that suspended operations came to 560.4 million euros in March, against €1.057 billion in March 2019 – i.e. a decline of 47%. Retail commerce, the sector with the biggest turnover among those that went into lockdown, posted losses of €144 million in March, or 36.6% compared to a year earlier.

The sector of games of chance and sports betting saw its turnover slump 57.8 percent in March to €155.18 million, from €367.92 million in March 2019, as there were very few punters who chose to gamble on the various popular games (such as Lotto and Tzoker) online, while due to the halt to all sports competitions there was no betting turnover.

There were also huge turnover losses for hotels, as the year-round units were forced to close on March 23: Their takings shrank 64.2% in March year-on-year. Food service enterprises lost about 44% of their turnover in March and collected just €54.97 million, against €97.74 million a year earlier.

Quarterly data, which also include very small enterprises with single-entry books, show a total drop in turnover of 11.8% to €4.16 billion in January-March, against €4.71 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

One cannot help wondering how the economy would have grown, as companies that suspended operations in March had seen a 5.26% rise in turnover in January and February.