Retail commerce saw its turnover drop by just 7.9% in November 2020, compared to a year earlier, a decline that appears small given that Greece entered its second lockdown on November 7. However, this is due to the significant increase in sales at supermarkets and other food stores.
Sector-specific figures reveal significant differences in retail, with supermarkets showing double-digit growth rates while the turnover of apparel stores fell by more than 50% – just as online commerce soared 60.5%.
Friday’s announcement by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on the general index of retail commerce turnover in November spurred an intervention by the Commerce and Services Institute of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Enterprises (INEMY ESEE), which accused ELSTAT of underestimating the turnover drop in apparel. INEMY ESEE claims the decline was greater than the 56.5% rate reported by the authority.
According to the data ELSTAT published, the sales volume index (not affected by price fluctuations) decreased by 6.9% in November 2020 on an annual basis and by 12.3% on a monthly basis – i.e. from October 2020.
Supermarkets in particular registered a 14.5% annual increase in sales and drugstores enjoyed a 29.8% rise, but these were far behind the 60%-plus jump seen in online commerce. After the 56.5% turnover decline for clothing and shoe stores, there was a major drop in turnover at fuel stations, amounting to 31.1%, followed by department stores with 18.2%, furniture and homeware shops with 16.9%, bookstores with 15.9% and specialized food stores with 2%.
INEMY ESEE attributes the alleged underestimation of the decline in apparel turnover to two main factors: The first concerns the fact that the ELSTAT statistics rely on a sample of enterprises with an annual turnover of at least 140,000 euros, which means that it does not record the losses that very small enterprises – i.e. the majority of Greek companies – suffer, and the second pertains to the reality that larger enterprises possess the necessary experience and infrastructure to conduct online sales.