At the same time, the Ministry of Development is intensifying controls on the market in order to prevent the phenomena of misleading discounts, with the priority being the protection of consumers from unfair commercial practices. In this context, the Interdepartmental Market Control Unit (DIMEA) imposed fines totaling 1.44 million Euros on 3 large electrical and electronic sales chains (Plaisio Computers, Public and Praktiker) as it was found in its checks to be in violation of Article 15 of Law 4177/2013, as applicable, and in application of YA 35935/2023 "Code of ethics on the announcement of a reduced price during a discount period".
"Misleading practices at the expense of consumers are not tolerated," the Minister of Development, Kostas Skrekas, said in a statement and announced that "controls will be intensified in the next period". The minister emphasized, among other things, that "the imposition of fines proves to citizens and society that the market is not uncontrolled, that the market is controlled. That our own government is in favor of the free market but not the unregulated market". He said that the purpose "is not to punish or harm the chains. Our aim is to uphold the law and protect the consumer. And I want to tell you that this worked, because as soon as the fines were imposed, the virtual discounts also disappeared." Mr. Skrekas noted: "We will not allow anarchy in the market, we will be merciless with lawbreakers."
Problematic in the commercial world
Focusing on the new code of ethics regarding the announcement of a reduced price during the sales period, Makis Savvidis, vice-president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and vice-president of GRECA, speaking to APE-MPE pointed out: "the government is doing the right thing and imposing fines on businesses for fictitious discounts". He emphasized that "the main concern of the trade is to ensure that there are no unfair practices by some who take the work from those who operate legally and properly. The controls of the ministry are in the right direction and aim to ensure the proper functioning of the market. Those businesses that make irregularities should be stopped because the only thing they achieve is to operate at the expense of the healthy businesses that make up the vast majority."
Regarding the fines of 1.44 million euros by DIMEA on the three major retail companies for misleading discounts, the president of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vassilis Korkidis said: "as long as they are confirmed, they were well imposed, regardless of whether they are due to an omission or a mistake, since companies of such size and reputation must set a good example in the application of the law and of course in consumer protection. However, I must mention that delinquency in the Greek market in recent years does not exceed 5%, showing professional maturity, but also the necessary respect for the customer, who is also the strictest punisher".
It is recalled that according to the code of conduct on the announcement of a reduced price during the sales period which entered into force last April and incorporates a relevant Community directive, it is provided that in each price reduction announcement the previous price applied by the trader for a specified period of time before application of the price reduction. Previous price means the lowest price applied by the merchant during the 30-day period before the price reduction was applied. When the product has been on the market for less than 30 days, the previous price is the lowest price applied by the merchant during the time the product has been on the market. Where the price is progressively reduced during the 30 days prior to the application of the price reduction, the previous price shall mean the price in force prior to the application of the first of the successive price reductions.
High temperatures and low turnovers
Speaking to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency, Makis Savvidis, vice-president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and vice-president of GRECA, pointed out that "the very high temperatures that prevailed during the first weeks of the summer sales and also on Sunday, July 16, when the shops were open, acted as a deterrent. Reduced traffic, combined with inflationary pressures and the limited disposable income of consumers have led commercial enterprises to a loss of turnover estimated to reach 30%.
"The malls, superstores and department stores, were probably the most profitable of the first days of sales, due to the large air-conditioned common areas, which seem to have attracted more consumers for their purchases," said the president of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vassilis Korkidis. According to him, the first two weeks of sales, which are traditionally the best in purchasing traffic, were "burnt" by the high temperatures of July, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
"Retail trade is once again called upon to overcome the obstacles of persistent inflation, but also the problems of this year's heat wave. What is certain is that the summer sales still have a long way to go until the end of August, while the retail trade will be called on in September to make the final cash register of the results of this summer's turnover and sales volume," underlined Mr. Korkidis.
The goal of the retail trade this summer is for the total turnover of the two months of July-August to move above last year's threshold of 6.6 billion euros and to exceed 7 billion euros this year. According to Mr. Korkidis, in the retail trade, current sales have strengthened since the beginning of the year, recording an annual increase of 12.7%. Specifically, from the latest data of ELSTAT, it appears that the Region of Attica shows, after the Region of the South Aegean with 15%, the largest increase in turnover with 13.3%. At the same time, the amount of stocks is deescalating, while the evolution of sales in the last period shows that they fluctuate monthly steadily at 3.55 billion euros. It is noted that of the 3.55 billion euros, 1.24 billion euros correspond to the small and medium-sized retail trade, while if we exclude food and fuel, then the monthly turnover does not exceed 1 billion Euros. The increase in turnover in the two months of July-August is also based on the increased tourist flows, during the summer sale period, where foreign visitors enter the sum of the turnover with "imported consumption".
This explains compared to other markets of Attica, according to Mr. Korkidis, the increased traffic in the center of Athens, as well as the areas with greater tourist flows, at least before the big destructive fires broke out.