ECONOMY

Shoppers keep tight grip on spending

Greece’s retail sales by volume fell 8.7 percent year-on-year in September after a 4.5 percent drop in August, signaling continued weakness in consumer spending, according to data from the National Statistical Service (NSS). Retail sales by revenues contracted 7.5 percent year-on-year in September after a 3.1 percent drop the previous month. Spending at department stores fell almost 19 percent year-on-year in September, while furniture and appliances sales dropped off 12.2 percent. «The higher-than-expected contraction in September retail sales signals continuing weakness in consumer spending, which we expect to fall by more than 1.5 percentage points in real terms this year, the first drop in the last decade,» EFG Eurobank economist Platon Monokroussos told Reuters. «We expect year-on-year retail sales growth to remain in negative territory, though the pace of contraction may ease somewhat in the fourth quarter of this year, as indicated by the recent partial recovery in consumer confidence.» Meanwhile, retail trading hours will be extended during the Christmas period to help draw skittish consumers. Retail trading hours are set to change for the Christmas period as of December 15. Stores in the region of Attica will be open from the middle of December from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will also be open for business on the weekend of December 19 and 20 (from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.). Regular trading hours will resume on January 4.