ECONOMY

Just over half of firms feel crisis bite

More than half of businesses in Greece have been negatively affected by the global crisis while expectations are widespread among executives that things will get worse, according to survey results made public yesterday. The survey, carried out by the marketing department of the Athens University of Economics and Business, found that companies have been cutting staff bonuses and reducing advertising expenses in an attempt to offset the drop in sales. A total of 110 middle-level and senior executives took part in the survey, from small- to large-sized businesses operating in the industrial, commercial and services sectors. Data showed that 77 percent of respondents said their sector has been hit by the downturn while 61 percent are downbeat about what has yet to come. Just over half (55 percent) said the crisis has hurt their business operations. Economic sentiment in Greece worsened for the 12th consecutive month in February, sinking to its lowest level ever, according to the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE). IOBE said earlier this month its economic climate index fell to 47.2 from 55.4 points in January, a drop in line with the deterioration in the eurozone. Steps being taken by businesses to deal with the changing conditions are a concern, the university’s study found. Out of the companies that have felt the crisis bite, one in five is cutting staff numbers. Other firms that have yet to suffer from the downturn are also getting ready to sack staff, in anticipation of a drop in sales figures. The decline in demand has made the market more price sensitive, according to respondents. Eighty percent of executives also expect their customers to place more emphasis on cheaper goods and services while one in four businesses are preparing to cut their prices.