COVID-19 Lockdown Eased, Greek Retail Bounces Back in May

Αssociated Press

Two young women wearing face mask to protect from the spread of coronavirus, walk with their bicycles on Ermou Street, Athens main shopping area, Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – The further pullback of an already lenient COVID-19 lockdown saw Greek consumers hit the streets and shops to start spending in person again in May – but they buying online just as much as they had been and more.

E-shopping in the first 20 days of the month showed a gradual return to 2019 levels, Finance Ministry said according to Kathimerini, raising hopes for a futher spending bounce, not including tourism that is expected to thrive.

Online transactions rose 10 percent compared to May, 2019, the bank figures showed, with indications that now they've seen the ease of electronic shopping that Greeks and residents will keep at it.

There's optimism that the spending figures for May will come close to what they were in the same month two years earlier and the data showed a 19 percent jump over May 2020 when people were mostly kept away from stores.

Not all sectors prospered as there were huge drops in spending for hotels, duty-free shops, car rentals, coach businesses, recreation parks and boat hiring companies, the data found.

But there were soaring sales for bakeries, books, magazines, newspapers, pharmacies, supermarkets and food stores, toys, home appliances, dentists, construction material, computers and software and gaming, the paper said.

Restaurants took a hit, relying on takeout and delivery until outdoor dining was allowed, business down 19 percent from May, 2019, unable to come back faster until being allowed to open indoors at some point, although fast food places did well.

Revenues from tourism are expected to be between 45-70 percent of the record year in 2019 after the government stepped up an alluring ad campaign bringing Americans and Greek-Americans back.