All everyone is talking about these days is the deepening economic crisis. So far, we've played it down, but I think the time has come to admit that yes, it is that bad.
A walk around my neighbourhood reveals shop after shop that has closed and let the premises out. The most tragic of these closures was the clothes shop in my neighbourhood that sold extremely ugly, extremely expensive clothes. It was also named Up Just. No matter how many times I turned it around in my head I couldn't understand what they were trying to get at with a name like that. I guess someone really did just pull it out of their ass.
Up Just was more than a bastion of ugliness, it was the source of many laughs from visitors and a useful landmark for giving directions to my house. Many was the summer evening when I would pass it and be impressed that the clothes had got even uglier (T-shirt with a picture of some girl, seemingly taken with a webcam, anyone?) and the shop that never had a single customer inside.
Personally I always believed it was a money laundering operation. That, and this Chinese restaurant downtown that I have NEVER seen a single customer dining in, and I've passed it nearly every Wednesday for four years now.
On the plus side, the sales have not really stopped since the winter, resulting in prices that are actually close to what the stores should be charging anyway. For example, a Body Shop body brush that costs GBP 7 in the UK costs EUR 14 in Athens. With a 50% sale, it comes pretty much on par with the UK price.
Sadly, supermarkets do not do blowout sales. And that's a shame, because we can all cut a few corners but when it comes to food, we can't look at out bills and say "No more food this month, kids! We'll survive on fresh air and love!" Supermarkets in Greece are some of the most expensive in Europe. A typical monthly shop costs me about EUR 200, and that's just staple items, not a trolley full of champagne. Brand loyalty has gone out the window. I just buy what's cheapest, and I think everyone else is doing the same.
Tourism is down, despite the GBP 200 for 7 nights, all inclusive to Kos and other such places that I saw in the UK. Not in my wildest dreams could I get that deal internally - it would be cheaper to fly to the UK and then fly back on such a package holiday. That's just wrong! Think about the hotel owners making jack shit out of deals like that. As Flubberwinkle so perfectly puts it, we live in Greece but can't afford a holiday here!
We're all bored to tears about hearing that the economy is getting worse and worse, and I don't think we've hit the bottom yet. Everyone expects the end of the summer to reveal to us just how shiteous the situation we find ourselves in really is. So enjoy the summer because it's going to be a bumpy ride this Autumn!
I leave you with a song close to all our hearts right now.