Greek retail sales rise for first time in years

Athens - Greek retail sales volume rebounded in November for the first time since April 2010, data by statistics service ELSTAT showed on Friday, as shops slashed prices to attract austerity-hit consumers.

Retail sales by volume rose 2.9 percent year-on-year after a 1.1 percent annual drop in October.

An employee is seen through a shop window in the commercial Ermou Street in central Athens in this file picture. Credit: Reuters

Retailers offered early discounts in November, which helped sales volume even though revenues remained stagnant, according to the data.

“We are seeing a stabilisation of the market, not a recovery, but that's good enough for us at the moment,” ESEE retail federation chairman Vassilis Korkidis told Reuters.

December retail sales by revenue, which include the busy Christmas season, dropped to an estimated 7 billion euros ($9.49 billion) from 7.6 billion in the same month a year earlier, he said.

“Customers are turning to lower-brand products to make ends meet,” Korkidis said.

Greece is experiencing its first deflation in more than 40 years amid its debt crisis.

The retail sector has been in a protracted slump, highlighting the pain EU/IMF-imposed austerity has inflicted on household consumption.

A 28 percent slump in private consumption has been the biggest driver of the country's six-year recession, which is expected to have shrunk national output (GDP) by almost a quarter over the same period.

Despite record unemployment and plunging incomes, private consumption accounts for almost three quarters of the Greek economy, the biggest share in any EU country.

Economists expect falling consumption to remain a drag on the economy this year, which will pull out of recession and grow by 0.6 percent, according to government and EU/IMF projections.



Retail sales*

by volume (y/y) 2.9 -1.1** -5.2 -7.7 -13.9

by revenue (y/y) 0.0 -2.1** -6.3 -8.9 -14.1

source: ELSTAT - Reuters