Cypriot Workers’ Christmas Bonus Bumps Up Holiday Sales

FILE- In this file photo made on Sunday May 9, 2010 children play in the courtyard of Saint George's Cathedral in the Maronite Catholic village of Kormakitis in the remote northwestern tip of divided Cyprus. (AP Photo/Philippos Christou, File)

ATHENS – While most Greek workers have seen annual two-month bonuses eliminated as part of austerity measures – Parliament employees are exempt as are some others – those on Cyprus are getting theirs and using it to spend big during the Christmas season.

The country is on an upswing from an economic crisis in 2013 that saw President Nicos Anastasiades, reneging on promises, allowing banks to confiscate 47.5 percent of bank depositor accounts over 100,000 euros ($118,590) in return for a 10-billion euro ($11.86 billion) international bailout.

Most of that has been fueled by the surging tourism business but retailers said they expect holiday sales of some 90 million euros ($106.73 million), thanks mostly to workers getting that bonus and going out and spending it.

Greek retailers were feeling the blues though with the Athens Chamber of Commerce saying holiday weekend sales in mid-December were off 60 percent the previous year as a crushing 7 ½-year-long economic crisis continues, worsened for shops downtown by frequent protests and demonstrations against austerity that saw streets closed off, as did the Dec. 7-8 visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

So while Greeks were having another austerity crisis and holiday season, Cypriots were spending freely, packing supermarkets and stores, the Cyprus Mail said in a report on the big shopping going on.