Despite the lockdown in two regional units of Greece and tightening measures across the country, the long queues outside food stores that dominated during the first few days of restrictions on all non-essential movement in March have not appeared.
“Some consumers could build towers with the toilet paper rolls and bleach bottles they purchased last spring,” says one supermarket professional explaining why purchases have reverted to pre-pandemic levels.
There is also another explanation that is less appeasing, related to the financial situation of households and their uncertainty about the future. This was always the fear of businesses ahead of a possible second wave of the pandemic.
“You don’t see any full baskets anymore,” a major retail chain representative told Kathimerini yesterday, adding that the average receipt per supermarket trip has dropped to levels last seen before Covid appeared, with a trend of dropping further still.
It is no coincidence that although economic sentiment improved in October, consumer confidence deteriorated to -45.4 points from -41 points in September. October was the fourth consecutive month to see a decline in consumer confidence.
Although supermarket traffic has increased since late last week compared to previous days, this is only partly attributed to the introduction of tougher measures against the spread of the coronavirus. The moderate increase, of no more than 20 in most cases, was also affected by the national holiday on October 28, the October 29-31 pay days for salary workers and pensioners, and the retroactive dues paid out to many pensioners.
Those who had planned to make shopping trips on Sunday also had to rush to the shops on Friday and Saturday as Sunday opening was suddenly canceled this time.
Another reason consumers are not flocking to supermarkets like last March is the restrictions that now apply: They have to queue outside the stores after the maximum number of customers allowed inside has been reached.
Crucially, it has been understood that food stores will remain open even in an absolute lockdown, while there is also greater sufficiency in the supply of key items such as disinfectant and face masks.