The Ministry of Development will announce new initiatives in the fight against punctuality by the end of the week.

As the market estimates, according to statements in APE-MPE, the measures applied in the last ten days work both stabilizing prices and discouraging price increases and, gradually, lead to the necessary reductions on the shelf for products necessary for the household’s livelihood.

However, as the political leadership of the Ministry of Development has pointed out many times, the battle against accuracy does not stop.

On the occasion of the celebration of World Consumer Day, on March 15, according to information from APE-MPE, there are expected to be announcements in the context of strengthening the role of the consumer in the battle against punctuality. The planned changes concern the platform of the e-Consumer Market Observatory.

The platform is being upgraded, it becomes more usable and flexible, and more importance is given to online supermarkets.

According to reports, consumers will be able to check 3,000 to 3,500 product codesnew but also updated while the process of adding as many codes as possible does not stop.

However, for the next period, as part of the increase in codes, emphasis is placed on the possibility of reading them, directly, from the web site of each eshop, that is, there will be no need for the process of submitting price lists as the barcode will be used.

In this context, the necessary ministerial decision will be issued immediately Mandatory posting of barcodes by all eshopswhether it is grocery, or only online stores, etc. in the context of transparency and the automation of data collection.

In addition, the new e-Consumer will have the ability to compare the basket and find the cheapest chain, which is closest to it, as well as the ability to propose separate purchases in more than one chain for even greater savings.

After upgrading the app, it will start and advertising campaign in order to inform consumers about the benefits they can get from using it and finally achieve its purpose as an easy-to-use and reliable tool in the price comparison process. It is recalled that this platform, in the hands of the consumer, is already a valuable tool for complaints where it detects infringements, circumventions and unfair behaviours.

At the same time, particular importance is also given to strengthening the consumer movement and the process of clarifying the details of consumer organizations kept in the Register of Consumer Associations (M.E.K.), their obligations for the books kept, the details required has already begun for their registration in the Register, the obligations to update their details and their deletion from the Register. A process that is expected to be completed by April 30, 2024.

New price cuts are coming

As far as the course of prices is concerned, the government’s measures to deal with the accuracy have been put into full effect since the beginning of the month and as the Minister of Development has said Kostas Skrekas, the average price reductions, in specific products, are already around 15%. “We had price escalation in household cleaners, detergents, personal hygiene products, baby diapers, baby milk, in 3,912 codes,” the minister recently said and added: “We are not complacent, nor do we say that we have solved the problem of accuracy, the battle is ongoing against the accuracy, but Greece has taken the most, the most drastic measures to deal with the problem”.

On the same wavelength general manager of IELKA, Lefteris Kiosses, speaking to APE-MPE, emphasizes that the state has advanced a series of legislation aimed at limiting inflationary pressures, especially in the categories of grocery items. “In the last 3.5 years, more than 25 pieces of legislation (laws or ministerial decisions) have been recorded which regulate the market in one way or another, such as the household basket, products with a permanent price reduction, the ceiling on the gross profit margin and now the new measures against offers” he points out.

Focusing on the measures against offers, Mr. Kiosses underlines that the latest regulation concerns two measures aimed at reducing offers, promotions and discounts, considering that this will lead to a reduction in the initial prices of products. “Of course it is not clear whether the final prices of the products and in general the final expenditure of consumers will be affected, as what ultimately interests the consumer is how their income is affected” he notes.

The first measure concerns a 30% reduction in discounts. With the enactment of the measure, the 50% discount that the supplier was offering at the supermarket should be reduced by 30% and the list price should drop to 15%. This measure may reduce the initial prices of the products, but may act as a disincentive for businesses to continue with the same intensity of promotional actions.

The second measure concerns the ban on those suppliers who carry out price increases, to implement promotional actions for three months on those products in which their price has increased. According to Mr. Kiosse, this measure is also expected to have a discouraging effect on price increases, but also on the intensity of promotional actions, while at the same time it may also lead to other changes in the market, e.g. in case a product does not sell well the company will have no tool to correct the situation, or possibly lead to higher markups in order to compensate for the possibility of increasing sales volume through promotions.

Asked to comment on the results of the new measures against punctuality so far, the president of the Union of Small and Medium Supermarkets, Yannis Pilidis, speaking to APE-MPE, underlines that as it appears from the new price lists concerning personal care products, detergents and care products home, prices are lower. Basic price lists were reduced by 5 to 10% up to 40% on some products. On average they decreased by 20%. As far as baby foods are concerned, they were reduced from 5% to 15%.

Focusing on the offers he notes that personal care products, detergents and home care products have reduced prices in the new price lists but not all companies have kept the same offers resulting in differences that the consumer will spot on the shelf.

In any case, he admits that “the majority of personal care, detergent and home care companies have reduced their price lists. However, the consumer is not interested in whether the price lists have been reduced, but the final price on the shelf.”

The president of the Union of Small and Medium Supermarkets, speaking to APE-MPE, expresses his satisfaction with the specific measure, noting that it is what the market wanted. “It is a measure that we have been asking for for years. It is in a positive direction and we believe it will pay off over time,” he said.

In Greece, the practice of promotional actions is particularly intense and completely integrated into the purchasing behavior of consumers. According to the most recent IELKA research, the average savings of the consumer public from offers in 2023 amounts to 13% of the total expenditure, a constant percentage compared to previous years, but increased compared to the previous decade. In practice, the total value of these actions corresponds on average to a benefit approaching 400 euros per year, also due to the increase in household spending due to inflationary pressures. In total, the average savings per household is estimated at over 3,000 euros for the last 8 years, while the total value given in 10 years exceeds 12 billion euros.

After all, as recorded in the same survey, the majority of consumers at a rate of 52% consider that the offers and discounts in organized retail stores help them deal with price increases. It is characteristic that while in 2017 74% of the respondents hunted for offers and discounts at the supermarket, this percentage in 2021 was only 58% to increase in 2023 to 63%. This development reflects the need of consumers at this particular time to save money.

43% of the public declares that they prefer more offers, rather than low prices, so it seems that consumers need both low prices and discount actions. This 43% of the public believes that by searching and choosing offers and discounts they have the potential for both greater savings and tailoring to their own personalized money saving needs. On the other hand, however, a significant portion of consumers may not have the energy or time to take full advantage of discount promotions and therefore prefer lower prices more.

According to the IELKA consumer survey, the measure that the consumer public believes will help to deal with accuracy the most, is the reduction of VAT on basic items, by 81% of the public. It is a measure that will certainly bring about an improvement in the price level, but certainly at a fiscal cost.