Sales may continue unofficially

Many retailers are likely to keep prices low in March in a bid to attract hesitant consumers in what is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year, even though the winter sales season wound up only last week. Figures show that revenues for the retail sector during winter sales fell by 20 percent in comparison with the same period a year earlier, a drop with which store owners appear to be satisfied. The decline has more to do with lower prices rather than a drop in the volume of items sold, said one source. Many retail outlets – both small and large – are likely to keep prices low in order to clear the last of the seasonal goods from their shelves. Meanwhile, trade groups have asked the government to extend the sales season or even drop restrictions concerning the dates when prices can be cut. However, the Development Ministry is unlikely to agree to such a step, fearing a backlash from small store owners that cannot keep up with their larger peers in slashing prices. According to Greek law, retailers cannot offer discounts for more than 10 consecutive days, beyond the winter and summer sales periods. Last week, the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) called on the Development Ministry to extend this winter’s sales season until March 15. Other ideas put on the table by trade groups call for the government to turn a blind eye to sales being illegally held for a specific time period and not impose fines on offenders. It is unclear whether the state will agree to such a measure.

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