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The consumer

Consumer Profile

Greece has a population of 10.6 million inhabitants, growing at a –0.31% rate. Greece median age is 45.3 years and 14.5% of the population is under 14 years old, 10.3% of the population is between 15 and 24 years old, 39.6% of the population is between 25 and 54 years, 13.1% of the population is between 55 and 64 years old and 22.4% of the population is 65 years old or over (CIA, 2020). There are 95 male every 100 women.

The average household size is 2.4 people, 27% of households only count 1 person, 50% of households count 2 or 3 people, 21% of households count 4 or 5 people, and 1% of households count 6 people or more. 79.7% of the people are living in cities, with an annual rate of urbanisation of 0.22%. The major urban areas are Athens with 3.156 million people living there (capital), and Thessaloniki with 811,000 inhabitants.

12% of the population works in agriculture, 15% of the population works in industry and 73% of the population works in services (2020, World Bank).
In Greece, 72% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, less than the OECD average of 74%. This is more correct for women than men, as 70% of men have successfully completed high school, compared with 73% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 458 in reading literacy, math and science in the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is lower than the OECD average of 486. On average in Greece, girls outperformed boys by 15 points, much more than the average OECD gap of 2 points.

According to the Institute for Gender Equality, which evaluates gender equality in European countries according to various criteria (work, health, violence, etc.), Greece is the last country with only 50 points out of 100.

Purchasing Power
Greece’s GDP - per capita (PPP) is estimated at USD 31,400 (World Bank, 2019). The average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 17,700 a year, lower than the OECD average of USD 33,600 a year (with a growth rate of 2.7% in 2018, one of the best performances among OECD's countries - latest data available).

There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest, with the top 20% of the population earning more than six times as much as the bottom 20% (OECD). The gender cap - intended as the difference in average gross hourly wage between men and women - is also a relevant issue to take into consideration, although the Bank of Greece estimated that among the group of low-paid workers the wage differential between men and women is slightly smaller than the average wage differential. The Gini index in Greece is 34.4 (World Bank), at the 57th world spot.
Consumer Behaviour
Since the economic recession, Greek consumers have radically changed their spending habits and have become extremely price-conscious. An increasing number of Greeks opt for online shopping, as online retail offers them the possibility to compare a wide range of products at a lower cost. Only one consumer in ten is expected to decrease their online spending while six out of ten are expected to increase their online purchases. According to a research by Nielsen, 69% of Greeks find online shopping convenient. Online shopping aside, credit card use is in constant decline and credit cards are issued more sparingly. Consumers are increasingly looking for local products. Local soft drinks and juices with new flavors intrigue Greeks; they also tend to abandon imported spirits and turn to bulk wine and local alcoholic drinks.

Consumers are increasingly looking to extend the life of products, which they currently own through repairs, rather than purchasing new ones (clothing, cars, shoes, appliances, etc.). As Greece has enjoyed relative political stability in recent months and a better tourism performance, consumers started to have more confidence in the economy. The health and wellness trend in Greece has been thriving over the last few years, positively affecting consumption patterns in packaged food and beverages. In addition, the high protein trend has gained momentum in the country and became one of the most demanded product groups in the country.

Among the services offered via collaborative platforms, the ones presenting the highest frequency of use among users relate to accommodations (for example renting an apartment) and transport.
Consumer Recourse to Credit
Greek consumers who enjoyed easy access to bank loans at low interest rates upon their country's accession to the Eurozone have reduced the use of loans and credit cards altogether since the economic recession. According to data published by the Hellenic Bank Association, in the second quarter of 2019 the use of credit and debit cards in Greece grew by 12.8%. At the beginning of 2020, the country’s four main banks had to proceed with the cancelation and immediate replacement of around 15,000 credit and debit cards that were used in transactions with a Greek online tourist services website after reports of credit card fraud.
Consumer credit continued to record solid growth in gross lending terms in 2019, although the overall value of gross lending remains well below its pre-crisis level. The level of non-performing loans is estimated at 35% and is the largest in the Eurozone by an order of magnitude, with the overall private credit growth remaining negative (-10% year-on-year as of September 2019).
Growing Sectors
Tourism, transport, and high-tech/telecommunications, personal care appliances for male, dietary supplements are growing sectors.
Consumers Associations
Hellenic Consumer Association
 

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Importing & Distributing

Import Procedures
For goods of a value under EUR 1,000, a verbal declaration at Customs and presenting the invoice, is sufficient. For higher values, you must deposit the following documents at the Customs office:

  1. a brief declaration (air or sea transport) to register goods.
  2. a common law declaration (SAD, single administrative document), as well as the accompanying documents to allow their clearance.

The SAD form can be obtained from a Chamber of Commerce or an approved printer. A computerised Customs clearance platform (SOFI: International freight computer system) can be accessed in Customs offices or in some Chambers of Commerce.

If deliveries and purchases are made within the European Community, the declaration of exchange of goods (DEB) or Intrastat declaration must be sent to the Customs service.

As part of the 'SAFE' standards advocated by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the 'Import Control System' (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Programme eCustoms, has been in effect since 1 January 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) - which contains advance cargo information about consignments entering the EU - to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.

Since 1 July 2009, all companies established outside of the EU are required to have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number if they wish to lodge a customs declaration or an Entry/Exit Summary declaration.

For more information, please visit the website of the EU Customs Union.

Specific Import Procedures
Pursuant to rules that apply to intra-European trade, some goods are prohibited or subject to particular formalities (medicines for human use, waste, plants or live animals). For further information, click here.
Greece has maintained a de facto ban on genetically modified (GM) products. Moreover, the EU regulation framework implies specific procedures regarding the import of several products, notably agricultural and fisheries production.
Distribution channels
According to Euromonitor, Greeks remain highly interested in price levels and general value offers, yet also opt for proximity, as a secondary way to save money. According to IELKA, the Greek Institute of Retail Consumer Goods, the economic crisis has brought a change in the dietary patterns of the Greeks, who are ordering out less and eating at home more. These shifts in consumer behaviour translated to changes in grocery store layouts, as packaged snacks and cold drinks became more easily available, while stores also increased their ready-to-eat food options. Greek consumers' limited purchasing ability forced them to cut down food spending. Food products in the market are becoming more diversified. Consumers are more open to diverse products, creating opportunities for new and foreign products.
Supermarkets continued to grow in 2019, thanks to the gradual recovery of the economy and of consumer confidence, as well as the full reactivation and reorganisation of all the former Marinopoulos outlets by Sklavenitis. Significant investments in outlets and logistics should support growth in the upcoming years, although the COVID-19 epidemic may cause disruptions. Several acquisitions of smaller local chains were carried on in by bigger players 2019.
Traditional grocery retailers continued to represent a substantial proportion of grocery sales in Greece, although they are expected to keep suffering the competition from modern grocery retailers, which can use their size and scale to offer bigger discounts and better promotional offers.
Another trend is favouring more frequent visits to retail outlets with a smaller average spend per visit in local stores, prompting a shift towards convenience stores and smaller supermarkets. Furthermore, demand for premium-quality food and drink is expected to keep growing in 2020, together with the number of shops offering Greek, organic and/or gourmet products.
Distribution market players
In 2019, the Greek supermarkets chain Sklavenitis dominated the market, thanks to the acquisition and reactivation of a consistent part of the former Marinopoulos network (after the latter’s partnership with the French chain Carrefour came to an end). Sklavenitis operates with the Sklavenitis and Chalkiadakis brands in supermarkets, and has an estimated half a million Greeks visiting its outlets each day.
The second player is Alfa-Beta Vassilopoulos (Euromonitor).
Greece has a highly fragmented market when it comes to independent traditional grocery retailers and small chains with a regional presence. Venetis, which increased his number of outlets, continued to lead the fragmented traditional grocery retailers channel in 2019, followed by Max Perry Chocolate.
Retail Sector Organisations
Federation of Greek Food Industry
Hellenic Retail Business Association
Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA)

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Operating a Business

Type of companies

Eteria Periorismenis Efthynis (EPE): Private Limited Company
Number of partners: Minimum of 1 partner and 1 director.
Capital (max/min): Minimum 4,500 EUR totally released up to this amount.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is limited to the amount contributed.
Anonymos Eteria (AE): Limited Company
Number of partners: Minimum of 1 partner and 3 executives.
Capital (max/min): Minimum 60,000 EUR totally released up to this amount.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is limited to the amount contributed.
Omorithmos Eteria (OE): General Partnership
Number of partners: Minimum of two partners.
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital.
Shareholders and liability: Partners' liability is joint and unlimited.
Eterorithmos Eteria (EE): Limited Partnership
Number of partners: Minimum of two partners.
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is unlimited for at least one active partner. Liability of sleeping partners is limited to the amount contributed.
New Private Limited Company (IKE)
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital.
 
Setting Up a Company Greece OECD
Procedures (number) 3.0 5.2
Time (days) 4.0 9.5

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

 

Cost of Labour

Minimum Wage
EUR 758 per month (source: Eurostat, 2020)
Average Wage
Average gross monthly earnings of full-time employees: EUR 1466 per month (source: OECD, 2019).
Social Contributions
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers: 24.33%, with a monthly cap fixed at EUR 6,500.
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employees: 11.05% with a monthly cap fixed at EUR 5 546.80.
 

Intellectual Property

National Organisations
Hellenic Copyright Organisation (OPI)
Regional Organisations
For the protection of patents: the European Patent Office (EPO). To control trademarks, designs and models: the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
 

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Tax Rates

Consumption Taxes

Nature of the Tax
Value-added Tax (VAT)
Tax Rate
24%
Reduced Tax Rate
A reduced VAT rate of 13% applies to some foodstuffs; certain take away food; some cut flowers and plants for food production; some non-alcoholic beverages; water supplies; some pharmaceutical products; some medical equipment for disabled persons; some agricultural supplies; domestic care services; hotel accommodation (bed and breakfast); certain social services; restaurant and catering (other than entertainment centres); services for boarding schools; structures for disabled persons; structures providing accommodation for mentally disabled persons, people with mental disorders and drug users. As a response to the COVID-19-induced crisis, transport, coffee, non-alcoholic beverages, cinemas and tourist services were subject to this reduced rate between 1 June 2020 and 30 April 2021.

A super-reduced 6% rate applies to books; newspapers; magazines; theatre tickets and the supply of electricity and gas, as well as district sales.

The islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros - which are affected by the refugee crisis - benefit from a 30% reduction of the standard VAT rates, until 30 June 2021.

Other Consumption Taxes
Excise duties are imposed on energy and electricity products (i.e. petrol, natural gas, and electricity), manufactured tobacco, alcoholic products, and coffee.
An inheritance tax of 1% to 10% is levied for close relatives and 0% to 40% for heirs on the tax value of real property.
Real property tax is also levied depending on the characteristics of the property and the total objective value of all the taxpayer's properties.
A stamp duty is levied on certain transactions at 3.6% or 2.4%.
 

Corporate Taxes

Company Tax
24% (22% from 2022)
Tax Rate For Foreign Companies
A firm is deemed resident if it is registered or its effective centre of management is in Greece, as well as if its registered seat is in Greece. Resident companies are taxed on their worldwide income, whereas non-resident companies are only taxed on their Greek-sourced income.
Capital Gains Taxation
Capital gains are taxed as normal corporate income at the standard rate of 24%. From 1 July 2020, capital gains derived from the sale of shares in an EU subsidiary are tax exempt in case the participation is greater than 10% and has been held for a minimum of 24 months.
Main Allowable Deductions and Tax Credits
In general, all ordinary business expenses and expenses made for scientific and technological research are deductible. The Income Tax Code includes a list of non-deductible expenses. This new code, unlike the previous one, makes no specific reference to the deductibility of donations to charities, and as such, Greek tax authorities must examine all donation cases one by one to allow tax deduction (same as for goodwill provisions). From 2020, expenses relating to corporate social responsibility actions are considered deductible in the tax year in which they were incurred.
Certain bad debt provisions and write-offs are deductible. Net operating losses can be carried forward up to five years to offset company benefits, whereas the carryback of losses is not permitted.

According to the Greek Accounting Standards (Law 4308/2014), start-up expenses are tax-deductible within the year that they have been incurred if they do not fall within a category of assets (including tangibles and intangibles - conditions apply).

Royalties, interest, and service fees paid to foreign affiliates are deductible expenses under certain conditions. Interest deductibility is subject to restrictions.
Other Corporate Taxes
A 1% capital duty on share capital increases and other special tax regimes (for shipping companies, real estate investment companies, mutual funds and coordination centres) are imposed in Greece. A 0.1% surcharge for the benefit of the competition committee applies on the contribution of capital to a public limited company.

A real estate ownership tax (ENFIA) is levied annually on property located in Greece, consisting of a main tax calculated according to the characteristics of the property and an additional tax calculated at a rate of 0.55% on the total tax value of all of the company’s property.
Each transfer of real estate, which is not subject to VAT, is subject to real estate transfer tax imposed at a rate of 3% on the taxable value of the property. A municipal surcharge equal to 3% of the real estate transfer tax also applies (bringing the cumulative rate to 3.09%).
Rentals of non-residential properties are subject to 3.6% stamp duty. In general, loans and interest may be subject to a 2.4% stamp duty.

Social security contributions are due on salary and benefits in cash or in kind granted by an employer to its employees. For the primary social security fund (EFKA), social security contributions are withheld at 14.12% at the level of the employee and at 22.54% at the level of the employer (capped at EUR 6,500/month). Furthermore, employers are liable to submit payroll withholding taxes on monthly salary payments under a Pay-As-You-Earn system (PAYE).

Other Domestic Resources
Directorate General for Taxation of the Hellenic Ministry of Finance
Doing Business: Greece, to obtain a summary of taxes and mandatory contributions
 

Double Taxation Treaties

Countries With Whom a Double Taxation Treaty Have Been Signed
List of the double taxation treaties signed by Greece
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 0% (if the dividend distribution falls under the purview of the EU directive on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States); 5% (dividends received on or after 1 January 2020)
Interest: 0% (resident corporations)/15%,
Royalties: 0% (resident corporations)/20%

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