First of all a disclaimer: when we shop at laikís, I wish there would be laikís with the same products and prices in Austria. A laikí is certainly a good place to shop but one cannot live on laikís alone.
Other than laikís, I form my opinion the following way: accompanying my wife to supermarkets (her favorite place is the Gran Masoutis); looking through shop windows in downtown Thessaloniki; frequenting tavernas, cafés and other places for food & drinks; visiting the Cosmos Mediterranean Mall, IKEA, Praktiker etc. from time to time; etc.
For the life of me, I do not understand why McDonald’s should be more expensive in Greece than in Austria. My understanding is that McDonald’s sources all of its products locally, i. e. everything they sell in Austria comes from Austria and the same for Greece. Given the recession in Greece, I have to assume that McDonald’s cost structure in Greece is quite a bit lower than in Austria. If their prices are higher and the sales volume keeps up, they are making out quite well. Normally, their sales volume should go down because of the declining purchasing power of consumers and that should prompt them to lower prices. Well, it’s obviously not working that way.
The Gran Masoutis is an excellent supermarket (there isn’t anything like it near my home town in Austria) but the prices there are at least as high, if not higher, than in Austria. And here is the point: the number of shoppers (and cars in the parking lot) is not noticeably smaller than 3 years ago. It would be interesting to see their sales numbers.
Lidl strikes me a bit less expensive than the Gran Masoutis but just by walking through a Lidl store, one sees half the problem of the Greek economy: it seems that at least half the products are imported from Germany and those are products which could just as well be produced in Greece (and the jobs/income taxes are always where the production is).
As an Austrian, I have a bit of a “sweet tooth”. From that standpoint, Greece is a dangerous place for me because there are so many great sweet stuffs on the market. But whether it is the ice cream shop or the regular pastry shop (not to even mention the fantastic Blé in downtown Thessaloniki!) – the prices are incredibly high!
Just like I use the McDonald’s index for cross-border comparisons, I use the price of a glass of Ouzo for domestic comparisons. Luckily, there is a little taverna nearby where they charge 2,50 Euros for a glass of Ouzo but if I go to any of the places along the waterfront of Thessaloniki/Kalamaria/Nea Krini, I can pay up to 10 Euros for the very same glass. And those places are full of young people!
What would I expect to happen instead? Well, with the kind of economic depression which Greece finds itself in at present, I would expect to see consequences everywhere and not just selectively. In the places where we spend our time & money, I have to look carefully to see such consequences. Yes, there is quite a large number of closed shops and there are a lot of “for-rent and for-sale” signs on buildings but life around those is still quite bustling. Cafés are crowded all day long, shoppers are all over the place and traffic in Thessaloniki is as bad as ever before (despite much higher gas prices).
Still, it is a fact that disposable incomes have come down significantly and that would simply have to be reflected in purchasing power and demand. When a retail business sees demand going down, the first reaction should be to lower prices in order to keep market share. That may indeed happen selectively but it does not happen across the board.
In summary, the Ekathimerini article confirms what I have felt intuitively all the time. And it was just announced that, per August of this year, the annualized increase in consumer prices was 6,8%! This is a road to disaster, not only for Greece as a country but, particularly, for those Greeks whose disposable incomes have not increased by 6,8% in the last year. When in actual fact most Greeks have seen declines in their disposable income, it becomes even more mysterious how consumer prices can stay so high (and increase even further!).