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Economy

Greeks Brace for Spiraling Utility Bills, Food, Staples Price Hikes

ATHENS – Adding to their woes during a lingering COVID pandemic, Greek households are girding for a combined wave of extra costs ranging from huge electric bills to jumping price hikes for everyday food stuffs and goods.

Supply problems caused largely by the Coronavirus crisis worldwide has created shortages driving up prices but ironically are expected to see profits drop for businesses because many people can’t afford to buy products.

The bad news for retailers comes after a disappointing holiday shopping season that as curtailed with new health measures brought in a bid to try to slow the pandemic and have been extended into 2022.

Utility bills rose more than 189 percent in a year and now everything from bread, butter, olive oil, sugar, coffee and cereal to dairy products, pasta, tea, baked goods, potatoes, garbage bags and toilet and kitchen paper.

That coincides with many workers having had to live on state subsidies and a drop in incomes because of lockdowns of non-essential businesses and businesses seeing fewer customers at the same time.

Inflation in December passed 5 percent and is expected to show another rise when the Hellenic Statistical Authority on Jan. 13 releases the latest data that will almost certainly put a further squeeze on spending and businesses.

In its latest monetary policy report, the Bank of Greece warned that “the recent price hikes are expected to be passed onto consumers in less than a year,” adding that these “price hikes may be quite large,” said Kathimerini.

Mid-January will likely see sticker shock in supermarkets with hikes more than 10 percent on more on everyday items whose prices bounced up in December and as the government is subsidizing utility bill hikes.

The cost of raw materials such as soy, coffee, cotton, wood and others remains at high levels, which means that supply contracts will reflect price hikes passed on to consumers who will likely cut back on spending even more.

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