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ΕΜΠΟΡΙΚΟ & ΒΙΟΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΟ ΕΠΙΜΕΛΗΤΗΡΙΟ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗΣ - Ε.Β.Ε.Θ ΕΜΠΟΡΙΚΟ & ΒΙΟΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΟ ΕΠΙΜΕΛΗΤΗΡΙΟ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗΣ - Ε.Β.Ε.Θ

The 26th TCCI BAROMETER

01/11/21 14:44

“TCCI BAROMETER” (Executive Summary)

Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI), consistent to its efforts to increase information levels and inform both businesses and organizations (public or private) as well as Thessaloniki’s community, continues the periodic Survey of Economic Climate (at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki) on the four business sectors of the economy and consumers.

The Survey of Economic Climate at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki (TCCI Barometer) is conducted twice a year during the 2nd fortnight of March and September, with a total sample of 1500 respondents (800 companies and 700 consumers). The survey covers all four sectors of the economy (industry, services, retail trade and constructions).

TCCI Barometer” survey is conducted via telephone interviews with the managers of businesses (General Managers, or Finance Managers, or Sales Managers or the owners in case of “smaller” companies) and with the use of questionnaires used by the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research and the European Union, so that the results are comparable with the equivalent National and European surveys.

 

IMPORTANT METHODOLOGICAL NOTE ABOUT TCCI BAROMETER–MARCH/SEPTEMBER 2020 AND MARCH 2021

The consumer and business field surveys at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, upon which all the TCCI Barometer March 2020 indicators are based, were conducted in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic crisis. More specifically, the Consumer survey was conducted between March 23rd and April 1st, 2020, while the Business survey was conducted between March 23rd and April 7th, 2020.  During this period, all the restraining measures to combat the coronavirus epidemic were put into action and implemented, such as the suspension of operation of both businesses’ and the public sector, as well as the citizens’ restraining of movement. Therefore, the TCCI Barometer of March 2020 indicators, fully reflect the consumer and business climate amidst the coronavirus epidemic crisis. Respectively, the consumer and business field surveys at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki upon which all the TCCI Barometer September 2020 indicators are based, were conducted amidst the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic in Greece, between September 22nd and 30th 2020. Finally, the consumer and business field surveys of the TCCI Barometer for March 2021, were also conducted during the peak of the third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in Greece, between the 22nd and the 31st March 2021 among consumers and the 30th March and 8th April 2021 among businesses. During this period limitations on civilian’s movements were still in place, retail trade was on hold and alternative modes of work (such as teleworking) were imposed on both the public and the private sector of the economy.  As a result, all the TCCI indicators still reflected, at that time, the serious consequences of the continuous economic crisis that derived from the coronavirus pandemic, both in Greece and worldwide.

National indicators are made up by the consumer and business surveys conducted by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (ΙΟΒΕ), which are part of the common research program funded by the European Union (DG ECFIN) - these results, are used in the calculation of the economic climate indicators in Greece and the rest of the EU countries. Taking the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research announcement into consideration about the National indicators for March 2020, “it is highlighted that one part of the primary survey was conducted before the implementation of the suspension of operation in specific sectors of the economy and a bigger part of the primary survey was conducted even before the implementation of the citizens’ restraining of transportation. Thus, the indicators’ projection doesn’t entirely incorporate in full-range the developments that occurred during March. Regarding this fact, a further, probably more powerful deterioration of the climate and expectations in general, is possible in the following months”.

Based on the above, it is important to take into consideration that this time difference, though short in days, between the primary research that feeds the National and European indicators and the relevant one of the TCCI Barometer that feeds those of the Thessaloniki Prefecture, renders these indicators incomparable for March 2020, due to the coronavirus crisis developments that occurred during this period, both in Greece as well as in a series of other European countries.

 


 

 

1.CONSUMER SURVEY

The “Consumer Confidence Indicator” is calculated based on consumer’s predictions for the general economic situation of the country, the economic situation of their household, the intention for saving and their prediction for unemployment levels. It must be mentioned that predictions are between +100 (all consumers anticipate an increase) to -100 (all consumers anticipate a decrease) and appear as differences between positive and negative responses. In particular, a negative difference means that the percentage of those who predict a decrease is higher than the one of those who predict an increase and vice – versa.

According to the survey, consumers at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki still show intense concern and pessimism amidst the coronavirus epidemic crisis and currently the Consumer Confidence Indicator stands at -26 points – with a slight 8-point improvement compared to “March 2021”.


The survey shows that climate among consumers is still negative, as the Consumer Confidence Indicator remains at very negative ground and far from the -2 points in September 2019 – the highest value ever recorded since the beginning of the “TCCI Barometer” in March 2009 – at -26  points today. The euphoria that followed the results of the National Elections of July 2019 and lead consumer confidence to an almost “optimistic” level, has given its place to a sense of intense concern and worry as far as the “next day” of the coronavirus epidemic is concerned. And this is totally justified, since already by the end of March 2020 – when the spring 2020 consumer survey was conducted – 43% of those who participated stated that their income has been reduced, 27% stated that their job was either suspended or permanently lost (got fired) and also another 27% stated that their business or occupation has been reduced. This situation continued for more than one year, but now signs of improvement and stability seem to appear: 18% of households report that they live in expense of their savings or borrowing from other sources, compared to 23% on March 2021 and 26% on September 2020. At the same time, 27% of households report that they save money in one way or another, which is the highest percentage since the establishment of the TCCI Barometer surveys on March 2009. Overall, it appears that there is a rebound in the economic situation of the households as compared to the situation that existed during the consecutive COVID-19 lockdowns, yet the cautiousness on how the economic situation will develop over the next few months still remains strong. At the same time, the consecutive pandemic outbreaks afflicting the country as well as the international community, has led to the belief that the return to normality is still yet to come: the majority (38%) believe that this will happen sometime in 2023 and beyond, while on March 2021 the majority “foresaw” the end of the pandemic crisis to occur sometime in 2022. Moreover, the prices-rise wave has already been “felt” by the consumers (who in fact expect an even stronger prices-rise in consumer goods). All the aforementioned factors contribute to the establishment of a strong reluctance among consumers in making important purchases and increase their expenses, at least at this time or in the near future.

 

 

 

In particular, consumers at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki indicate:

 

  • A less negative evaluation of their economic situation for the preceding period (compared to March 2021), but at the same time an enhancement of pessimism about its future development, as there is a remarkable increase in the percentage of those who expect a deterioration of their household’s economic situation over the next months (from 27% in March 2021 to 35% today), while the majority (43%) predicts a stabilization of their economic situation for the following 12 months.

                                                                                                                                   

  • The percentage of those who stated that the country’s general economic situation has (in a smaller or larger degree) deteriorated over the past year, has been reduced to 66% (compared to 88% in March 2021). At the same time the percentage of those who estimate that the country’s general economic situation over the next 12 months will deteriorate, remains at a very negative level (45% today compared to 55% last March 2021).

 

  • The increase in consumer prices has been very pronouncedly noticed.  Consumers in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki estimate that prices have increased during the past 12 months “Slightly” (25%), “Quite” (35%) or “Much” (21%) (81% total). At the same time the vast majority (83%) of the consumers estimate that over the next 12 months consumer prices will increase at a smaller (9%), same (26%) or higher (48%) rate compared to the previous period.

 

  • Consumers are still pessimistic but in a lesser degree as far as unemployment levels are concerned, as the majority of respondents believe that unemployment levels will increase “A lot” or “Somewhat” (54% compared to 71% in March 2021).

 

  • As far as the consumer’s evaluation of current situation to make major purchases is concerned, there seems to be no change since March 2021 (13% considers that this is an appropriate time for important purchases such as furniture, electric appliances etc., compared to 14% in March 2021), still though remaining at a very negative ground. The indicator measuring the willingness to make such purchases in the future, also remains stable but in negative ground.

 

  • A stable intention to save is reported, compared to March 2021, while there is a small decrease in the percentage of those who say they live at the expense of their savings or borrow money (18% from 23%), an marginal increase of those who say that they just break even with their income (54% compared to 52% in March 2021) and an increase of the percentage of those who save money (27%) which is the highest value ever recorded since the beginning of the TCCI Barometer surveys on March 2009.

 

  • A stable outlook is expected as far as the car market is concerned in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, with 7% of the consumers saying that it is very or highly likely to make a car purchase over the next 12 months (exactly the same value as that of March 2021).

 

  • A slight decrease is reported on the intention to buy or build a house (3% today compared to 5% last March), and a respective decrease is reported as far as the intention for renovations and / or repairs-house improvements is concerned (13% compared to 16% in March 2021).

 

 

2.INDUSTRY SURVEY

The “Business Expectations Indicator for the Industrial Sector” at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki is for the first time since the appearance of the pandemic in March 2020 at positive ground, continuing its rapid improvement, as compared to the period of March 2021 and for the third consecutive 6-month period.

Thus, the balance of positive – negative estimates of the “Business Expectations Indicator for the Industrial Sector” stands now at +6 points at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki. It must be noted that this indicator, reached its worst level on March 2020, since the beginning of the TCCI Barometer surveys in March 2009, but stands now at its highest level since the establishment of the TCCI Barometer, following the respective trend of the National and European indicators.

After a two-year period that the Business Expectations Indicator for the Industrial Sector appeared to “flirt” with positive grounds, moving away from the negative numbers that were consistently recorded from 2009 up to 2016-2017, the appearance of the coronavirus epidemic as well as the development and implementation of the restraining measures to combat the pandemic crisis, have led to its downfall at an even worse level in March 2020 than the one recorded during Greece’s recent economic crisis (2010-2011). One-and-a-half years later  (September 2021), a significant recovery of the “Business Expectations Indicator for the Industrial Sector” is observed, which is mainly based on the recovery of the evaluation of the production levels for the past six-month period, the improvement of the production expectations for the next 6-months period, as well as improved expectations for the export levels in the near future.

In particular, the views of the industrial sector at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki are summarized as follows:

  • There is a remarkable reverse as far as production is concerned over the past 6 months (+9 from  -48 in March 2021), whereas, estimates regarding the evolution of production in the near future at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, have further improved compared to March 2021 (+29 from +18).
  • There is a satisfying management of inventories (although there are signs of increased demand and increased orders) and production capacity. At the same time, the current production capacity level, after its significant reduction on March 2020 compared to September 2019 (when it reached the lowest point since the beginning of the TCCI Barometer), has once again recovered to 72% (its highest value since March 2009).  Moreover, the number of assured months of production based on current overall books has increased to 3,6 months (2,8 months in March 2021 and 2,9 months in September 2021) after the plunge at 1,5 months in March 2020 – the worst performance ever recorded since the establishment of the TCCI Barometer.
  • As far as exports levels in the future are concerned, estimates have improved dramatically at a remarkably positive ground (+22 today from -2 in March 2021 and -51 in March 2020).
  • A significant rise of product prices is expected for the near future (in line with similar trends at National and European level), as well as a quite probable upward trend for employment over the near future.
  • Limited demand is no longer the dominant constraint on manufacturing production, as reported by 30% of companies compared to 60% in March 2019. On the contrary, shortages of raw materials and / or equipment and labor shortages are reported more strongly compared to March 2021 (32% vs. 24% and 15% vs. 10% respectively)

 

  1. SERVICES SURVEY

A positive climate is observed by businesses in Services sector at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki, after a 1,5 year period that was accompanied by extreme concern and negative climate. The “Business Expectations Indicator for the Services sector” has significantly improved compared to six months ago.

More specifically, the relevant “Business Expectations Indicator for the Services Sector” returns again to positive ground for the first time since September 2019 (+23 points from -14 last March), reaching its highest point since the beginning of the “TCCI Barometer” in March 2009.

In particular, services at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki mention:

 

  • Positive – and at its  highest level since the beginning of the TCCI Barometer -  is the evaluation of their current business situation (-44 in March 2021 compared to +10 today), when at the same time the levels of demand over the last six months are also evaluated at the highest value since March 2009 (+31 from -29 last March 2021).

 

  • The expectations for the demand over the next six months are steadily positive (+27 today from +32 last March 2021).

 

  • Positive estimates are observed as far as the level of employment is concerned during the past 6 months, as well as an upward trend for employment during the next six months, while a recovery of price levels is expected for the near future.



 


 

 

4.RETAIL TRADE SURVEY

Significant improvement is recorded as far as the climate among Retail Businesses at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki is concerned, compared to that of March 2021, with the “Business Expectations Indicator for the Retail Trade sector” returning once again at positive ground after a 1,5 year period of pandemic crisis, reaching in fact its higher score since the establishment of the TCCI Barometer measurements.

Thus, the balance of positive – negative estimates of the “Business Expectations Indicator for the Retail Trade sector” stands at +11 points (from -11 in March 2021).

In particular, the views of Retail businesses at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki can be summarized as follows:

  • For the first time ever since the establishment of the TCCI Barometer measurements back in 2009 a positive evaluation appears for sales levels during the past six months (+6 from -49), while, expectations about sales in the next six months retain steadily positive estimations (+15 from +18 last March 2021). In addition, as far as the evolution of orders are concerned for the next six months, estimates remain at a marginally positive ground (from +5 points last March to +4 today).
  • Moreover, they foresee a slight increase of employment in their sector and a significant rise as far as product prices are concerned in the near future.

 


 

 

5.CONSTRUCTION SURVEY

A very remarkable upward trend of the Construction Sector expectations is observed, reaching its highest point since the beginning of the TCCI Barometer measurements, at a marginally negative ground, as the “Business Expectations Indicator for the Construction Sector” in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki has greatly improved.

Thus, the balance of positive – negative estimates of the “Business Expectations Indicator for the Construction Sector” stands at -1 points at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki (compared to -23 in March 2021).


In particular, the views of Construction businesses at the Prefecture of Thessaloniki can be summarized as follows:

  • There is a remarkable improvement reported as far as the construction activity indicator over the last six months is concerned at +19 points today (from -31 point on March 2021). It should be noted that this indicator returns to a positive ground for the first time since September 2019 and -at the same time-reaches its highest point since March 2009.
  • A remarkable increase (still at negative level though) is recorded as far as the current levels of orders are concerned.
  • A positive trend appears in the expected employment levels over the next 6 months and a significantly upward trend as far as the real estate prices are concerned.

 

 


 

6.TCCI Barometer – AD HOC CONSUMER QUESTIONS

Aiming at the optimum use of "TCCI Barometer" as a research tool with a view to better inform the business community of Thessaloniki, new ad-hoc questions were incorporated in “TCCI Barometer’s” questionnaires. The questions were placed at the end of standardized questionnaires used "TCCI Barometer" to ensure continuity and reliability of the results of "TCCI Barometer".

  • Feelings about the COVID - 19 pandemic

Concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their household finances (50% say they are "Very" and "Somewhat" concerned) seem to overshadow consumers' concerns about the corresponding impact on their health (44%). This concern though for both their finances as well as their health is substantially reduced as compared to March 2021 (63% and 55% respectively). At the same time, the feeling of concern is dominant (38%) as far as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned and other mostly negative feelings remain strong such as insecurity (21%), frustration (17%), anger (15%) and fear (15%).

  • Changes in consumer behavior

A number of changes in consumer behavior came with the COVID-19 pandemic and it seems that at a significant degree they will remain after its end. More specifically, 43% of the consumers (compared to 35% 6 months ago) say they will shop online more often, 38% say they will use video calls more often (compared to 20% last March), 33% say they will pay for their purchases via mobile more often (29% on March 2021) and 30% (compared to 18%) say they will use video conferencing platforms more often. Finally, approximately 1 in 5 (22% from 20% last March) say that they use fast food delivery services more often, while the percentage of those who work more often from home has increased to 20% (from 15% last March 2021).

Important findings are also reported as far as the consumer preferences for purchases via physical stores or via online stores are concerned. More specifically, 4 in 10 consumers prefer to buy personal electronic devices (PCs, mobile phones, TVs etc) via online stores or channels, whereas a significant percentage of consumers (28%) prefer online shopping for household electric appliances (refrigerators, washing machines etc) and cosmetics/presents (29%). The actual (physical) shops, continue to dominate in the preferences of consumers when it comes to purchasing clothing/footwear (83%), furniture / home appliances (89%) and food/drinks (93%).

33% of the consumers report to have delayed / postponed traveling and holidays (compared to 35% on March 2021), while there is a remarkable decrease in the percentage of those who report to have delayed or postponed clothing and footwear purchases (16% now from 35% last March). The majority of the consumers now report that they have no longer postponed or delayed any kind of important purchase (53% today compared to 25% last March).

 

  • Vaccination

2 in 3 adults in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki report that they have been fully vaccinated (with both doses of the vaccine) against coronavirus, while 12% report that they have contracted the COVID-19 virus. Overall, approximately 8 in 10 adults report that they are either fully vaccinated or have at some point in the past contracted the virus. On the other hand, 11% report that they do not intent to get vaccinated and approximately 2 in 10 report that they haven’t been vaccinated up to date. It should be taken under consideration that those findings are based on the answers of people over a telephone survey about a highly sensitive matter, that has created important friction and disunity on the population, which should be taken into account when evaluating the specific survey results.

  • High prices

As established by the answers at the Consumer Confidence questions of the TCCI Barometer, the increase in prices in consumer products/services has already had its impact on the consumers: 77% report that they have already spotted this increase in prices.

 


 

7.TCCI Barometer – AD HOC ENTERPRISES QUESTIONS

Aiming at the optimum use of "TCCI Barometer" as a research tool with a view to better inform the business community of Thessaloniki, new ad-hoc questions were incorporated in “TCCI Barometer’s” questionnaires. The questions were placed at the end of standardized questionnaires used "TCCI Barometer" to ensure continuity and reliability of the results of "TCCI Barometer".

 

  • Evaluation of the state measures to support businesses and citizens

54% of businesses in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki assess that measures taken by the state to support businesses and citizens, according to Prime Minister’s announcements at the “Thessaloniki International Fair” are sufficient and effective, whereas 34% find them are insufficient and ineffective. Corporate tax reduction from 24% to 22% beginning in 2022 is considered by the respondents as the more important measure taken (66% state that it is Very or Quite important), following by the employment subsidization for young people aged 18-29 years without previous work experience for 6 months in 2022 (63%), the reduction of the percentage of refund on all the subsidies given to businesses during the pandemic (61%) and the extension for 2022 of the 3-point reduction of the social security contributions rate (60%). 

  • Deep “wounds” for businesses from the pandemic

6 in 10 companies (or 59%) in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki state that their turnover has decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, slightly lower compared to the previous period and the onset of the pandemic. Moreover, among those who state that their turnover hasn’t decreased, 27% report that their profit levels have decreased a little, 10% that their profit levels have decreased significantly and 5% reported losses. On the other hand 55% report that their profit levels remained unchanged. 

 

 

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