ATHENS: Greek retail sales continued to slump at a near-record pace in November, the country’s statistics agency said on Thursday, highlighting the pain EU/IMF-imposed austerity is inflicting on household consumption.
The plunge in private consumption has been the biggest driver of the country’s six-year recession, which is expected to shrink national output (GDP) by about 24 per cent in 2008-2013.
Retail sales by volume fell 16.8 per cent year-on-year in November after an 18.1 per cent drop in the previous month, statistics agency ELSTAT said. Fuel sales dropped by 16 per cent in January-November, footwear and apparel by 21 per cent and supermarket sales by 8.1 per cent.
The retail sector is bearing the brunt of mass unemployment, soaring taxes and plunging wages -the fallout from Greece’s international bailout. Greeks have slashed spending in response to a fall in real disposable income of almost a third since austerity began in 2010.
Thousands of stores and smaller retail companies have shut down during the debt crisis, which began in late 2009. Sprider Stores, a big clothing chain, and furniture retailer Neoset both filed for bankruptcy protection in recent weeks.
Foreign firms such as German supermarket chain Aldi and French multi-media retailer Fnac, which set up shop in Greece to benefit from a debt-fuelled consumer boom after it joined the euro in 2001, have already left the country. Private consumption accounts for about three quarters of the Greek economy, the biggest share in any euro area country.