ECONOMY

Consumer boycott hits sales

The Institute of Consumer Protection (INKA) yesterday claimed success on the first day of a four-day boycott of fruit and vegetables, saying the protest had led to a 60-percent drop in fresh produce prices and a 70-percent fall in sales. INKA President Haralambos Kouris told Kathimerini English Edition that the response from consumers had been «significant.» Preliminary data compiled by INKA showed a decline of 40-60 percent in the number of people buying fruits and vegetables around the country. The four-day boycott is the second protest launched by INKA in two weeks against soaring prices. It staged a one-day, nationwide boycott against retailers earlier this month. It decided to take action against fresh produce merchants this week in order to drive home the message. Along with consumers in other eurozone countries, Greeks have seen the prices of numerous products and services increase since the introduction of the euro this year. Many have blamed merchants for rounding up prices to the disadvantage of consumers. According to the Bank of Greece, the euro changeover added 0.2 percentage points to January inflation. Italians last week staged a similar boycott against retailers in protest against soaring prices. Kouris said the boycott was already making an impact, as statistics gathered by the federation and fresh produce traders and distributors showed a fall of as much as 60 percent in fruit and vegetable prices at supermarkets and street markets. It was also hurting sales, with supermarkets and greengrocers reporting sales down by 70 percent. Turnover at street markets was off by 45-60 percent. INKA is due to sign a protocol of cooperation and code of ethics with representatives from the food sector next week. The authorities’ empty promises, the measures taken to bolster the market, the businessmen’s announcements of bold business moves have not tempted investors back. No one has given a frank explanation of where those trillions of drachmas went.