Sales fail to ease pain among retailers

Some 65,000 enterprises are close to shutting up shop due to the financial crisis, according to estimates from the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE), which expects job cuts in the sector to reach up to 100,000 by the end of the year. At the same time, revenues from the two-week-old summer sales season have failed to cheer up merchants. Estimates show that revenues from the the sales period so far have been around 10 percent lower than last year’s levels. Data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority confirm the downward trend in retail activity. Retail sales volume in May fell at an annual pace of 7.3 percent, with the biggest drop-off recorded by clothing, footwear and department stores. With consumers keeping a tight grip on purse strings, fearing a deterioration in labor market conditions, the retail trade sector is expected to keep hurting until the end of the year. Data from Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), the country’s largest business group, show that 13.8 percent of enterprises located in the central Athens district closed down in the first five months of the year. A recent study held by EBEA found that one in two are prepared to closed down in the next year if conditions don’t improve.