For the first time, the Greek traders started the season of sales with discounts reaching 50%. Higher taxes, reduced consumption and market decrease made the traders who have survived so far to start much bolder sales than in previous years. In the previous years the summer sales, which traditionally begin in the middle of July, started only just with discounts between 10% and 30% at best. Now, the windows of large and small shops are attracting the customers with "Everything at half price" or up to 60% sale and other similar baits. Wishing to make the ordinary customers with empty pockets to spend some money just in their shop, the merchants are writing all sorts of messages.
The offer of the popular chain Benetton is, "for purchases over € 200 you get 50% discount." The inscription seems exciting but the message is not clear at first. The buyer has the impression that the purchase is not at a profit because you will need to spend 200 euros, before getting the discount. Asked, "What exactly do you mean by shopping for 200 euros you get 50% discount," the shop assistant kindly explained that if you go to the pay-desk with goods from the shop for 200 euros, you would pay only 100 euros. "Not bad", I thought, but then I remembered that in the new economic conditions very few people I know are ready to pay 100 euros for clothes, just before the summer holidays.
Changing the priorities of the average Greeks was inevitable, but it turns out that this does not apply to all. On the first day of the sales, in another shop, a label for 40% reduction was hanging over a summer cotton dress with soft colours, fine looking and thin straps. However, only the smallest size – XS – has remained unsold. "Of course, there will be a big reduction," said a middle-aged woman, and added, "There are only unsaleable sizes." The saleswoman did not agree with this statement and said that when the model is good, the customers do not wait for reductions but buy it.
"We did not wait the reductions to reduce the prices of some goods after Easter," said for GRReporter a saleswoman in a shop for underwear and socks. She said she is not optimistic for the sales season, but hopes to earn enough to be able to cover the costs during the summer. At the same time, she was pasting a sticker reading "Big sale," admitting that she is not optimistic. The same is true for most shops that have survived after the first financial shock in 2010 and stood up against the crisis. Fiscal consolidation and the Prime Minister George Papandreou’s motto "We are sinking like Titanic" are marking a new era in the economic and social life of Greece, when many small retailers have gone bankrupt.
There were emptied shops in the commercial part of the Patision Avenue this time again as well as those marked "Final sale of winter and summer goods – we are closing due to the severe conditions," and the note bellow read that the premise is offered for rent. According to the data of the chambers of commerce in the country, one in three small shops has closed since the beginning of the year. At the end of last year, traders predicted that the number of 65,000 retailers who have gone bankrupt in 2010 would double in 2011.
The businessman and chairman of the Greek Committee of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Todor Haragionis told GRReporter still in March this year that retailing in Greece has been misunderstood for many years. Small shops are often taken as a salvation from unemployment or an easy means for unskilled labour. However, this business is not for everyone, he stressed and explained that the crisis would equilibrate these imbalances in the system and the most powerful would remain after the transition period.
Large retail chains that offer goods at low prices and are able to make large discounts during seasonal sales have the main advantage today. An example is the large chain H & M, which opened two new stores in the capital in recent years and is now preparing for the opening of the third store for children's clothing in the northern suburbs. Other commercial sites not affected by the crisis are the shops for luxury branded goods and their representations because their customers do not fall in the general category of the average consumer. They also offer significant discounts, but their prices remain high for ordinary customers, because their goods indicate the social status, and they are not essential.