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An unhappy Easter for Greeks

An unhappy Easter for Greeks
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The economic crisis has overshadowed the Orthodox Easter celebrations in Greece.

Food is normally the focus for families as they gather at this holiday time with big elaborate meals.

However in the fifth year of recession and with many Greeks unemployed, or with their salaries or pensions slashed, austerity rather than abundance is the theme for family Easter feasts.

One shopper in Athens said: “We’re having to change our lives to fit our incomes. Because prices are high in relation to our reduced earnings, we have to make an effort and buy moderately.”

The president of the Athens Meat Sellers Association, Kleanthis Tsironis, lamented: “Our prices are good, but when there’s no money everything seems expensive.”

The Greek Commerce Confederation said the cost of the traditional Easter meal should be down by 10.5 percent from last year. But traders expect their sales to have fallen by about 10 percent because of the recession.

Future fears

Greek consumers remain the most pessimistic in Europe, said the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), Greece’s most influential think tank, in a recently published report.

Eighty-five percent of them expect their economic situation to worsen further in the coming 12 months. Greece’s deep recession was triggered by the drop in consumption by Greeks after austerity measures were imposed including cuts to jobs, wages, pensions, and benefits. It has caused thousands of businesses to close.

The hesitancy to spend continues, said the think tank, even among high income earners, and in some cases that is based on fears of future unemployment.

The report also showed 53 percent of the public said they were barely getting by, 19 percent have tapped into their savings, and 16 percent are in debt.