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Greek Retailers to See Christmas Sales Slide as Recession Bites

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Greek retailers will see Christmas and New Year-related revenue decline 18 percent as business is blighted by the country’s fifth year of recession, the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce said.

Nationwide spending on food and gifts will fall to 7.6 billion euros ($10.1 billion) this month from 9.25 billion euros in December 2011, the Athens-based trade group said in an e-mailed statement today. Expenditure will be 65 percent less than the 21.9 billion euros recorded in the same month of 2008, at the start of the financial crisis, the confederation said.

Greece’s unemployment rate climbed to a record 26 percent in September. The recession and deepening labor slump have been exacerbated by spending cuts and tax increases imposed to trim a budget deficit that was more than five times the euro-area limit in 2009. The economy will shrink as much as 4.5 percent in 2013, the Bank of Greece forecast on Dec. 3.

The cost of a family Christmas dinner, based on an identical basket of products, will fall to 151.56 euros this year from 158.93 euros in 2011 as lower prices for red meat, fruit and vegetables help to offset higher prices of turkey, wine, feta cheese and olive oil, according to the statement.

Greek retail spending for the whole of 2012 probably won’t exceed 50 billion euros, down from 60.5 billion euros in 2011, the confederation said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tugwell in Athens at ptugwell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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