Supermarkets pushing own brands

Supermarket chains around Greece are fighting the crisis with significant price reductions and promotions of own-brand products as they fight to hang on to their market share.

Some supermarkets, such as Carrefour and Veropoulos, are regularly holding three-day special sales with discounts on certain products reaching as high as 50 percent. Others, including Vassilopoulos, have reduced the prices of certain products to pre-crisis levels -- that is to 2008 levels -- while similar tactics are being applied to greater or lesser degrees by smaller supermarket chains as well.

As far as generic products are concerned, big chains are aiming for these to make up as much as 20 percent of their total turnover. Some supermarkets have gone as far as to remove specific brand-name products from their shelves and replace them only with their own brand of the same product.

Meanwhile, given the slump in supermarket sales and general uncertainty, it is highly unlikely that any foreign discount supermarkets will be entering Greece anytime soon, so local consumers will have to make do with Lidl -- the only hard discounter in the Greek market.

Supermarket chains are also expected to rein in their spending on investments in new sales points, with one high-ranking executive at a major chain telling Kathimerini: “We opened as many stores as we could back in 2011, when we took over Atlantic’s sales points. Now we have to look at surviving with what we’ve already got.”

If the latest data compiled by the Hellenic Statistical Authority is anything to go by, the future looks bleak, as in the January-November 2011, the sales volume index for supermarkets declined by 3.3 percent compared to the same period the previous year -- a significant figure given that most supermarket sales are for household staples. 

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