Study: Greek households slashed grocery-food spending in crisis years

The amounts spent by Greek households on grocery goods has fallen by 21.7 pct in the last seven years of deep economic crisis, according to a study by the Greek Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA) released on Tuesday. Despite the reduction, the share of grocery goods as a percentage of total household spending actually increased in that time, with households making deeper cuts in spending on non-essential items, like clothing and footwear, while spending on food fell by only 18.6 pct.

The study found that the average Greek household spent 5,578 euros on grocery goods a year in 2009, while this figure had fallen by 1,211 euros in 2016, to 4,367 euros. This reflected a reduction in available income but also a shift to “smarter” consumer choices, with use of discounts and offers generating savings between 9.5 pct to 11.7 pct, further boosted by changes in consumption behaviour (buying private-label, comparing prices, reducing waste, larger sizes etc).

Another factor leading to lower household spending was an increase in VAT and special taxes on grocery goods (for example wines), which increased sharply from 9 pct and 19 pct in 2009 to 13 pct and 24 pct in 2016. For the average household, the annual VAT paid on groceries increased from 561 euros in 2009 to 638 euros in 2016, meaning that the real reduction in grocery spending by households in that time was closer to 25.7 pct.

This lower amount represented a bigger proportion of total household spending, however: spending on foods represented 16.2 pct of total household consumer spending in 2009, whereas the amounts spent in 2016 represented 19.6 pct of total household consumer spending.