Higher lending costs and a drop in sales are among the key problems reported by businesses that have started to feel the pinch of the global slowdown, the Hellenic Fashion Industry Association (SEPEE) said yesterday. In a survey of more than 70 businesses last month, SEPEE found that two-thirds of these reported a drop in sales for 2008, while 17 percent said revenues had risen. The remaining 18 percent reported stagnant turnover. SEPEE also said that three-quarters of the businesses questioned reported having to deal with higher interest costs and limited funding. The downturn in economic conditions prompted just over half of the respondents to reduce their staff levels.