ATHENS – Food prices in Greece – already high because of a 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) – have jumped so much that supermarkets are bracing for a fall in sales.
Even basic goods, such as coffee and milk and bread, are feeling the pinch, said Kathimerini in a report on the expected further decline in sales with markets upended and people keeping their wallets in their pockets.
“I am not optimistic anymore about a reversal of the situation by the end of the year. We still have hikes ahead of us that have not yet trickled down to the shelf price,” Aristotelis Panteliadis, head of the Metro Group, told reporters.
January sales during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic fell some 8 percent, the report said, with turnover falling 1-1.5 percent as the higher prices backfired and produced a further fall in sales.
With energy and fuel prices also jumping in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there’s been a confluence of storms whacking the supermarkets and it’s reflected in people stopping buying even basic commodities.
“We cannot pass on the energy, transport and salary costs to retail prices; they are monitored by the authorities based on the regulations on profit margins,” said Panteliadis.
He added that “hikes will obviously trickle down to consumers. They are usually passed on with a delay of two to three months from the time we receive the price lists from the suppliers, as we try to contain them through the purchase of large quantities.”
The head of the group that controls the Mymarket chain said that the anti-gouging measures implemented by the New Democracy government due to end in June will likely be extended to the end of the year.
He said, without being named, that it was a bad idea because “when you lock profit margins, you prevent the market from operating,” but didn’t say that the market would close.
Panteliadis estimated profits for the Metro group will still match those of 2021 with 23.5 million euros ($25.25 million) in pretax profits, down from 24.12 million euros ($25.92 million) in 2020.)
Most of those earnings come from wholesale operations (the METRO Cash & Carry network) with tourist spending expected to bring a boost and fill the gap in fewer purchases by Greek households.