Retailers get the Christmas blues

Retailers are reporting a drop in festive season turnover despite efforts to entice customers with special offers and fine weather helping draw consumers to shopping districts. Pedestrian traffic in areas with retail stores had increased yesterday but a large number of people were seen at cafes and restaurants rather than in shops. National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) president Vassilis Korkidis said that turnover in clothing and footwear is estimated to be between 20 and 25 percent lower relative to last year’s levels, with a drop of around 15 percent recorded so far in gift items. The estimated reduction in food sales was the lowest, in the vicinity of 5 to 8 percent year-on-year. Retailers are expecting business to pick up this week with many Greeks still opting to exchange gifts on January 1, rather than Christmas, as dictated by tradition. In an attempt to drum up more business, retailers have launched special deals ahead of the upcoming sales season. Offers at clothing and footwear stores include price discounts of up to 30 percent, while other stores provide the chance to win free airline tickets or obtain gift vouchers. One large-sized retailer is offering a 20-euro discount to customers who hand in an old pair of shoes when buying a new one, in a marketing ploy that made its first appearance over the summer. Traders are eager to see the commencement of the sales season, which runs from January 15 to February 28, to up turnover. «Most consumers during the festive season this year bought only gifts, preferring to purchase items for themselves during the sales period,» said Korkidis. Traders have requested that changes be made to the legal framework governing special offers and the sales period as part of an issue that needs to be discussed in March, added Korkidis.

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