OPINION

Indiscriminate consumption

Is it mass curiosity or the evidence of an extreme form of consumerism? Hordes of Athenians recently rushed to «inaugurate» two massive new commercial centers – The Mall in Kifissia and the first branch of the Media Markt chain. This simply served to boost a rate of consumption that is already among the highest in Europe – 4.5 percent per year with a total hike of 20 percent expected over the next five years. It is a fact: The trend toward sprawling commercial and entertainment complexes, monstrously large department stores and supermarkets, «multiplex» cinemas as well as major discount retail chains is continually gaining ground. On a European level, transactions in the sector totaled 5.5 billion euros in the first six months of this year alone. And this is having an adverse impact on the retail sector at large. But the changes brought about by this phenomenon are not only evident in the commercial profile of the capital and other major cities, but also in the daily habits and behavior of citizens who are increasingly becoming engulfed within a uniform mass of consumers. And these endless stores, restaurants and complexes – virtually identical in their presentation – impose new needs and demands on the average citizen who subsequently casts aside his or her interests, ignores social problems and abandons him or herself to the indiscriminating consumption of goods and leisure.