Festive supermarket sales rise, SMEs struggle

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Retail sales during Christmas reached pre-pandemic levels, but small businesses’ turnover was below expectations and want government support.

“It went very well, beyond our expectations, it was at satisfactory levels, similar to 2019, and we are completely satisfied”.

He added that supermarkets had boosted the Christmas market with offers.

“People saw that all the supermarkets had improved their offers in a wide range of products, including the festive table.

“Therefore, the prices moved to very satisfactory levels, and we can say that results will not be very different from last year when the Christmas and holiday market is evaluated”.

On the other hand, Stephanos Koursaris, general secretary of Professional Craftsmen and Shopkeepers CyCPOVEK, told CNA that shopping during the holidays was below estimates.

“It was below the expectations of shopkeepers.

“People were reserved. There is a general uncertainty, which is why people have perhaps limited themselves only to the essentials”, said Koursaris.

“We know that large companies, supermarket chains, and department stores have significantly increased turnover and profits.

“On the other hand, due to various policies that have been implemented, small family businesses are having a very difficult time.

“The small shopkeeper cannot afford these conditions; they do not have the funds for advertising.

“So the state should help these businesses so that they can become the backbone of society again”.

Cyprus Consumers’ Association president, Marios Droushiotis, said that “we are very pleased” with the market during the festive season, noting that the only complaints were about gift exchanges.

“Before Christmas, we emphasised for consumers’ to make sure whether an exchange can be made, by what day and if the store accepts exchanges”.

He added that the Association received several complaints about stores not issuing refunds or the store not going through with exchanges.

“Legislatively, there is no obligation for the store to accept exchanges unless it declares it from the beginning”.

He said that meat prices were up by 20-25%, but this was somewhat offset by fruit and vegetable prices, which had dropped.

“At Christmas, we bought field cucumbers for 60-80 cents and greenhouse cucumbers for less than 50 cents.

“This has never happened before.

“Tomatoes were almost half the price of previous years and holiday seasons; overall, the festive table was about 10% more expensive than last year.”