Another lockdown this fall might actually help retailers, given the inflationary pressures. A possible suspension of activities after the summer could contain the negative consequences from the increase in shipping costs and the international rates of raw materials, as well as from shortages in certain products.
True, a new lockdown would lead to a fresh reduction in demand and a decline of upward pressure on prices seen globally. This is how observers also interpret the phrase by Apostolos Vakakis, the owner of blue chip retailer Jumbo, “you may come and discuss this with us in October.” This pointed to possible product shortages and price hikes, alongside his decision to stop placing orders in China and the broader Asian market.
Nevertheless, for now, the situation in the Greek market is considered largely manageable, as reduced demand for durable consumer goods over the previous months resulted in sufficient stock for some more months. The summer sales, set to start on July 12, will give retailers the chance to liquidate their stock, which in sectors such as apparel is considerable.
To face the conditions to come, certain retail and wholesale traders have been seeking out or already found alternative suppliers for some of their merchandise, besides Jumbo that has also done so. There have been similar moves by corporations in furniture trading, hotel equipment, homeware – as senior corporate officials tell Kathimerini – and even in the cash & carry category.
Of course the provisionally unsatisfactory – in relation to original estimates – course of tourism significantly reduces the threat of major shortages, at least during the summer season. Price hikes as of September are taken for granted, as the new orders have already been made at significantly higher rates.
For the time being, any shortages are being dealt with through a shift in the product mix companies offer: For instance, a major electrical and electronic goods chain has decided to cease importing some low-cost refrigerator from China, as the shipping costs offset the low-price effect.
There are also problems in the delivery of orders in the car sector, especially in cases of vehicles with some additional features and technologically advanced accessories, due to the global shortage in microchips.