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Shoppers look at jewelry in a window in the Plaka old district in Athens.
Reuters/Yannis Behrakis
No time like the present.
WHILE SUPPLIES LAST

Greeks might lose their life savings—so they’re going shopping

Jason Karaian
By Jason Karaian

Global finance and economics editor

You may have heard that Greece is in a bit of trouble. So why are some Greek retailers seeing their stock fly off the shelves?

Rather than risking their savings being redenominated into a weaker currency or seized in the name of bolstering sickly banks, some Greeks are buying big-ticket items like jewelry, appliances, and cars that might retain their value more reliably.

Something similar happened in Russia at the end of last year—when the ruble tanked, shoppers went on a luxury goods shopping spree before foreign-owned retailers put up prices to compensate for the foreign-exchange loss.

Reports note that everything from appliances to jewelry are in high demand across Greece. Car sales in the first half of the year rose by 15% versus the previous year, nearly double the rate in the EU as a whole.

Flat-screen televisions are also a popular item, boosting sales at Kotsovolos, a local chain owned by London-based Dixons Carphone. The company reported perky earnings this week, noting that its Greek unit had, in fact, recently returned to profitability.

Of course, Greeks can only buy so many cars and washing machines. And retailers themselves may want to sit on buffer stock, too—a jeweler told The Guardian that she turned down a million-euro order because “we, too, were fearful of what might happen to the banks.”

Dixons Carphone noted that its Greek sales boost probably won’t last, and the company is “planning for every contingency.”

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