Are things expensive in Greece? Well, I suppose it depends on where you’re from and how much money you have.
Six months ago, I published Mercer’s comprehensive cost of living ranking of popular cities around the world, with Athens jumping 30 places in one year to #29. With this knowledge, it’s difficult to understand how this country manages to meet the EU inflation index of 3 percent per year unless it’s fudging stats, and it’s well known that salaries have not increased on par with real inflation.
A short time later, I published my Greece vs. USA price comparison, using Athens (#29) and the higher ranked, more costly city of Manhattan, New York (#15). The survey used the same name brand products at comparable stores in comparable neighborhoods and followed a number of strict rules that favored Athens (sale prices, bulk, local products) and was heavily biased against NYC (no sale prices, no bulk, using imports that cost more). Athens was still more expensive.
Granted the euro is stronger than the dollar, but it didn’t explain why Athens jumped 30 places and ranked higher than other EU cities that fluctuated little on the cost of living survey and maintained high quality of living.
Finally, the Consumers’ Protection Center in Greece confirms my findings.
Greek prices almost double compared to other EU nations
“Figures made public yesterday suggest that Greek consumers are paying up to almost 200 100 percent more for basic foodstuffs than shoppers in other parts of Europe.
A survey carried out by the Consumers’ Protection Center (KEPKA) and the Piraeus Prefecture indicates that Greeks are paying between 13 and 194 94 percent more than residents of Brussels for a wide range of products.
For example, a liter of milk costs an Athenian an average of €1.34 euros but it can be purchased in Brussels for just 71 cents. Supermarkets in Athens charge €3.82 for a 400-milliliter bottle of shampoo, but a shopper can pick one up for only €2.39 in the Belgian capital.
Rising prices have caused the government concern as well since the inflation rate increased to 3.9 percent last month, its highest level since September 2005.
The Piraeus Prefecture found that the prices of fruit and vegetables have increased by between 16 and 58 percent this year, while the cost of other basic foodstuffs has gone up by 8 to 25 percent.
Dairy products, bread and pasta have seen the biggest increases. Rises in the price of milk and flour on world markets are seen as being mainly to blame for these hikes.
There does not seem to be any relief in sight for Greek consumers as food firms have already informed the Development Ministry that they intend to increase the price of more than 100 products by up to 18 percent next year.”
This was further confirmed with another article on May 17, “Cost of Living Hits European High in Greece, especially food items” after my article was plagiarized on May 3, 2008.
I and the same people who participated in the Greece vs. USA comparison did an Athens vs. Athens price comparison to determine inflation — using the same name brand products from the same stores in the same municipalities — comparing prices in June 2007 to December 2007.
People can then see the rate of increase for themselves at “Athens, Greece: Real inflation in 6 months,” before the next 18 percent increase takes effect in the first quarter of 2008.
* Strikethoughs of Kathimerini’s text are corrections to their calculations, rightly confirmed by Martin of mmo.gr
Note: Don’t shoot the messenger.
Photo from www.ncsr.ie