Greece has made significant progress in overcoming the financial crisis and restored its creditworthiness.
However, there is growing concern about the sharp rise in inflation, which is putting ordinary households under considerable strain.
Anna Petropoulos, a 49-year-old mother of three, expressed her concern, saying that the amount she now spends on groceries for three days was enough for an entire week last year. Although she earns a decent income by Greek standards and lives with her husband in an apartment block, the sharp increase in food and fuel prices requires careful budgeting, reminiscent of the 2010 financial crisis.
Currently, a 500 gram bag of coffee costs at least 2 euros more than in the previous year. Basic products such as milk, yogurt, bread and eggs have risen in price by around 30%, and even the beloved Greek feta cheese has risen to €12 per kilo, an increase of €3-4 in just six months.
Petropoulos said she feels financially strapped when shopping for groceries, and while she acknowledges the efforts of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, she finds it hard to reconcile with his claims of economic progress.
On the other hand, Mitsotakis is confident in Greece’s positive trajectory. He stated that Greece is currently one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, with increasing employment, reduced inequality and improved public finances. However, Anna Petropoulou struggles to see how these improvements translate into her daily life.
The statistics further highlight the challenges consumers face. According to the information food prices in Greece rose by 9.4% in September and headline inflation rose by 3.9% in October, exceeding the eurozone average. This surge in costs affects both consumers and merchants. Market traders struggling with the combination of adverse weather conditions and high petrol prices are in a difficult position. The reduced supply of fruits and vegetables has driven up prices, creating a cycle of higher prices and reduced purchases.
Although Greek supermarket chains are seeing increased revenues, customers are turning to more affordable brands. Despite efforts to look for special offers, people like Katerina Kefala, a teacher who earns around €1,100 a month, are finding it increasingly challenging to make ends meet.
Rising prices of staples such as olive oil, a staple of Greek cuisine, are adding to the financial strain. A liter of olive oil, which cost 4.80 euros a year ago, now costs 10-11 euros, with further increases expected due to the poor harvest. This is particularly worrying as the average Greek household consumes around 60 liters of olive oil per year.
Recent surveys show that Greeks are most concerned about this significant price increase, with almost nine out of ten respondents expressing significant concern. A survey conducted in October 2023 by the Pulse Institute revealed that almost half of those interviewed were most concerned about rising food costs for their families.
Although the Greek government has taken measures to address these issues, continued inflation remains a serious challenge.