Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Winter and summer sales in Greece

ekptoseis Greek salesPhoto from

There are two official sales per year in Greece. In summer, they start mid-July and run through August 30. In winter, sales begin mid-January and end February 28. For 2015 the official start date is Monday, January 12.

However, with the debt crisis and austerity forcing households to cut back, retailers offer ongoing discounts, interest-free payment programs and VAT-free purchases.

By law, an establishment must display two signs: One showing the original price and another showing the sale price. Retailers not displaying both signs are subject to fines ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 euros, and repeat offenses are calculated as a percentage of total sales or an amount determined by the secretary general, plus imprisonment.

Sale prices are valid until closing time of the last day, according to law 3769/2009.

Value-added tax (VAT) was raised to 23 percent on July 1, 2010 and remains at this rate, contradicting promises to lower sales tax and stimulate the economy.

*Article last updated January 2, 2015.

Interim sales

The law allows for two 10-day sales outside the official summer and winter periods in May and November, during which all retailers must be open sometime between 11:00-20:00 (varies by city) on the first Sunday of a sales period.

Article 4177/2013 also grants permission to any merchant wishing to open every Sunday as of November 3, 2013, but this is not obligatory.

ΦΕΥΓΟΥΜΕ means “We’re leaving” aka, It’s a closeout sale.

Buyer beware

Some stores artificially raise prices during this period to fool a consumer into thinking they are getting a bargain when they’re not. For example, the original price of an air conditioner on July 10 was 400 euros, but raised to 599 euros on July 15. The shop then displays the ‘original price’ as 599 euros and the sale price as 400 euros (the true, original price), thus advertising a 33 percent discount.

Do people really do that? In a word, yes.

My friend Eva was the first to tell me about this practice, citing a large retailer she visited some days before a sale. She had her eye on a certain jacket, noted the price and then went back a few days later to get it on sale. To her surprise, the price had been changed, and the sale price was only 1 euro below the price she originally noted, not the 40 percent discount the store was claiming.

The clothing store I walk past each day on the way to work did the same thing. All the shirts in the window are tagged 25 euros. But on July 15, the original price jumped to 50 euros, had a red slash through it, and the “new” sale price was 25 euros, supposedly a 50 percent discount.

If you’re not sure it’s truly a bargain, it’s best to pass.

Photo credit: Yiannis Panagopoulos/Eurokinissi

Where to file complaints

If you know for a fact that a store is inflating prices or engaging in other dishonest business practices, the Development Ministry’s Ministry of Labor and Social Security’s Department of Consumer Affairs encourages you to call ‘1520.’ Open Monday-Friday from 8:00-22:00 and Saturday 8:30-20:00.

Complaints regarding defective merchandise or low quality products can also be filed with the Consumer Protection Agency of Greece (KEPKA or ΚΕ.Π.ΚΑ), where 99.6 percent of cases recover compensation for the buyer. Call 801-11-17200 or visit


Τελευταία ελπίδα για τα καταστήματα οι χειμερινές εκπτώσεις” — Ta Nea
Special offers to encourage consumers during crisis” — Kathimerini
Πρεμιέρα για τις πρώτες φθινοπωρινές εκπτώσεις” — Naftemporiki
Θεσσαλονίκη: Στις 3/11 η πρεμιέρα για ανοιχτά καταστήματα τις Κυριακές” — To Vima
Greece woos consumers with a novelty — Sunday shopping” — WSJ

Related posts

10 tips for saving money on food
English language bookstores in Greece
VAT rates in Greece


  graffic wrote @ July 19th, 2008 at 01:37

In Spain they just change the prices the first sales day: your favourite shoes are 60 euros, and the next day… hey! they were 100 and now they’re 70 euros… 30% discount!

Amazing… 😛

  Hippolyte wrote @ July 19th, 2008 at 01:29

This trick isn’t limited to Greece! Here in the US, my mom taught me that one as soon as I was old enough to accompany her to the mall. She’s a champion bargain hunter and haggler, and I think her solution to the phony sale is just to shop as often as possible, so you know what everything’s worth–and when the real sales happen. 🙂

  Kat wrote @ July 19th, 2008 at 14:05

H – That’s true, it probably happens everywhere and I never said it was exclusive to GR, but the country referenced in the title is Greece. It was meant to be an informative post to newcomers and visitors to Greece about sales dates, a little warning and what consumers can do to empower themselves. There is no commentary or comparison.

But since you brought it up, inflating prices is not commonplace in the USA, and consumers are protected by not only the Better Business Bureau, but also the FTC if complaining to the store manager doesn’t resolve anything. You can call a free 800 number or fill out an online form and get immediate results. Here in GR, there are price fixing cartels, monopolies, and a whole bureaucratic wall to climb, not to mention things are a lot more expensive here than in the USA to begin with for the same item.

G – Ah, same thing. How sad.

  Dragana wrote @ July 13th, 2011 at 17:59

Hi Kat! I would like to file a complaint about one shop in Thessaloniki. Is Kepka the place to go to?

Did you ever have to file some complaint, or you heard that anyone else have? Are they efficient at protecting our rights as customers? I’m asking this cause I found out about Kepka only from one out of ten person that I shared my sad story with 🙂 Everyone else just shrugged their shoulders, like there is no help.

But I just don’t want the shop owner to get away with what she did, and I also don’t have money to repair their damage. Thanks a lot for any tips that you or anyone else might have!

Kat Reply:

Hello, nice to see you again!

There are two places in Greece you can go to make a complaint. KEPKA is one of them, and the other is the Consumer Affairs hotline ‘1520.’

Pertaining to your questions, I have no hesitation to file complaints and go direct to the person/company and complain to them on my own, or take a large Greek man with me if it doesn’t work. I’ve used many departments to have my rights recognized, but I’ve no first-hand experience with ‘1520’ or KEPKA.

You will find that a lot of people don’t know where to go, or they know where to go but won’t file a complaint because they’re frustrated or assume that the time and trouble won’t pay off. However, these places exist for the sole purpose of helping the consumer — they want people to complain and very often get a positive result.

I encourage you to give it a try.

Thank you for your question. It gave me the opportunity to reopen and update this post.

  Pup wrote @ January 10th, 2012 at 18:44

Comment 1:
JEEEE-ZUS you’re bitchy!!!! What a shitty attitude you have! I remain amazed at the new heights of rudeness you continually soar to.

Comment 2:
I find your attitude intolerable, but your website and information good. Sadly, however, a good engaging writer doesn’t make for a decent human being. That’s really sad because I honestly think your site is great. But you seriously need an attitude tune up or professional help.

When you put a site like this on the world wide web, I guess you have to tolerate dumb, but well meaning people, asking dumb questions and, worse, assholes like me calling you on your rudeness. Perhaps the solution is to lock your site and sell subscriptions? People ask their questions assuming you might be a source of information (go figure) – they don’t come here to be shot down or berated because they are – as you so often say here – too stupid or lazy to read previous articles. Perhaps, with all the bad information on the web, you might give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are just practicing due diligence ensuring that the information here is up to date. Give your readers more credit. And stop hating the world.

Canadian who lives in Crete.

Comment 3:
LOL – and all the best to you, unhappy lady. I stand chastised, corrected and, uhm, whatever else your purpose was. You’re a real humanitarian, obviously.

Eavesdropping on other people’s comments? Uh, you mean the ones that are publicly posted here in a public forum?

OK…. backing away slowly from the crazylady.

Kat Reply:

Answer 1:
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Why do you keep coming back here (37 times) if you find me so intolerable? And where does it say I’m obliged to help people for free and tolerate name-calling from people in Canada?

I have the right to set policies according to time constraints and when readers cannot behave.

Answer 2:
Whether I’m a good writer or a decent human being cannot be discerned from an online presence or tone, though everyone thinks they ‘know’ me without having ever met me. That’s fine, and I live with that as part of my decision to use the website as a tool to help people, IF they want it. If they don’t want it or don’t like me, they’re free to go elsewhere. None of my readers are dumb, stupid, lazy or assholes.

Articles say when they were last updated, I don’t make a habit of writing untrue material, and I am not in PR. I could easily delete redundant questions or comments like yours under the stated policy, but that prompts people to come back and leave the question again or berate me for ignoring, deleting and being undemocratic, so instead I point them in the right direction. The time it takes to repeat myself could be used to publish new material to benefit everyone; instead I end up catering to one person on one subject already covered. It does not make practical sense.

I know you think you’re calling me out, but all you’re doing is painting yourself in an unflattering light. All best.

P.S. You’re still in Canada.

Answer 3:
I fail to see how reading or eavesdropping on other people’s comments without contributing, being ungrateful and impolite, name-calling and hiding behind anonymity proves that you’re superior. Thus, the advice you dish out is ironic.

Hilarious. Actually, the correct terms are lurking and trolling.

  Georgia wrote @ August 21st, 2014 at 17:56

Hi there!

Great website! I’ll be in Athens on August 28th, 2014… do you still think the sales will be just as good then? I’m planning on going to mostly Zara (Hermou, Golden Hall, the Mall).


Kat Reply:

Sales are in effect until August 30, so yes. Happy shopping 🙂

  Endri wrote @ January 3rd, 2015 at 23:30

Great info. I am planning a trip to thessaloniki on 15 of january. Can you tell me if there will be any sale on this period? Thank you

Anyone here to give me an answer?

Kat Reply:

Answer is in first paragraph of article.

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.