Christ­mas bud­gets slashed due to higher taxes, health­care costs

Kathimerini English - - Focus -

Higher tax­e­sand in­creased health­care ex­pen­di­ture – the lat­ter due to so­cial se­cu­rity funds’ re­duced con­tri­bu­tion – seem set to de­prive lo­cal re­tail­ers and the Christ­mas mar­ket in par­tic­u­lar of even more money dur­ing the 2014 fes­tive sea­son, ac­cord­ing to this year’s an­nual survey by Deloitte that records con­sumer trends ahead of the hol­i­day pe­riod in Greece and 16 other Euro­pean coun­tries.

The survey showed that house­holds in Greece have an av­er­age bud­get of 406 euros this Christ­mas to cover gifts, food and en­ter­tain­ment, down 12.5 per­cent on last year’s av­er­age spend­ing of 464 euros. In 2013 con­sumers in Greece had ex­pected to spend 451 euros. Although this year looks like turn­ing into yet another with a drop in bud­geted spend­ing for the fes­tive pe­riod, the rate of that drop has eased com­pared to pre­vi­ous years.

“The survey il­lus­trates pes­simism re­gard­ing the fu­ture state of the econ­omy,” noted Dim­itris Kout­sopou­los, con­sult­ing man­ag­ing part­ner of Deloitte’s Con­sumer Business Depart­ment in Greece, dur­ing the survey’s pre­sen­ta­tion on Wed­nes­day. “This slow­down in the spend­ing de­cline rate is re­lated to the fact that we have reached bot­tom,” he added.

In Greece 75 per­cent of those sur­veyed ex­pressed pes­simism against 5 per­cent who took a more op­ti­mistic view of the fu­ture, a slight change on last year when 81 per­cent ap­peared pes­simistic and just 3 per­cent op­ti­mistic.

Two-thirds of re­spon­dents (65 per­cent) said they are not bud­get­ing any more for the hol­i­day sea­son as they have to pay more tax than last year. This is also the first time that so many con­sumers – 25 per­cent – be­lieve they will have spent more on health­care in 2014 than last year.

It looks like there will be a fair amount of dis­ap­point­ment when it comes to gift-open­ing time this Christ­mas as there is pretty much no com­par­i­son be­tween what Greeks are hop­ing to re­ceive and what they’ll ac­tu­ally get: Trips rank top of Greeks’ wish lists with 61 per­cent, with cash in sec­ond (58 per­cent) and ap­parel in third (57 per­cent), while books rank sixth (48 per­cent). In prac­tice, though, books are the No 1 choice when it comes to buy­ing presents (49 per­cent) be­cause they are cheap. Clothes and shoes come sec­ond (45 per­cent). Sadly, the gift of a hol­i­day doesn’t even make the top 10 for givers.

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