The substantial shift in the seasonality of supermarket sales in Greece seems to have occurred in three distinct phases over the last 20 years.
Before we look at Greek supermarket's total monthly turnover and seasonality it is important to understand how sales have been affected overall by the economic crisis.
The graph below shows the Retail Turnover Index for Large Food Stores from 2000 to 2018. In the period 2000-2007 supermarket sales more than doubled, then went into decline until 2015, after which it remained at approximately the same level until 2018
Graph 1: ELSTAT Turnover Index: Large Food Stores in Greece 2000-2018
The Capita Sales Seasonality Index
In order to understand the fluctuations in sales during the year and to ascertain if there is indeed seasonality, we constructed the Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets based on ELSTAT's Monthly Retail Turnover Index for Large Food Stores 2000-2018. We set the average monthly sales to a base value of 100 points for each year and calculated the value for each month in the year separately. This gave us a basis to determine and compare seasonal fluctuations within and between years.
2000-2007: The period of high seasonality
In the period between 2000 and 2007 the Greek supermarket retailer category experienced strong seasonal influences each year on monthly sales. In 2001 for example the supermarket sales seasonality index bottomed at 86 points for the month of August (the lowest month in turnover) and peaked at 133 points in December (the highest month in turnover). The spread in monthly sales was 47 points.
In Table 1 below we show the values of the Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets for the highest and lowest in turnover months as well as the difference between high and low values for each year of this first period.
Table 1: High-Low spread in Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets, each year 2000-2007
In this 8 year period the annual spread between the best and worth months, in terms of sales, ranged from 31 to 47 points. Graph 2 below shows a common seasonal sales pattern in each year for the period 2000-2007.
Graph 2: Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets, month by month, 2000-2007
There was strong sales in April followed by a decline up to the summer months and a swing upwards towards the end of the year. This was followed by lower monthly sales until April.
2008-2013: Sales seasonality shifts and dampens
In the second period, 2008-2013, the high-low spread in monthly sales seasonality fell dramatically to levels between 13 and 25 points per year. Monthly sales tended towards the monthly base value in comparison to the first period (see Table 2). There were many factors contributing to the dampening of the supermarket industry's sales seasonality, including: decreasing household expenditure due to the economic crisis, supermarket expansion into rural and tourist areas as well as a wider range of product categories.
Table 2: High-Low spread in Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets, each year 2008-2013
Graph 3: Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets, month by month, 2008-2013
The strong seasonal sales pattern evident in the first period now begins to dampen and shift.
2014-2018: A less intense sales seasonality emerges
In the third period, 2014-2018, the annual high-low monthly spread in sales shows signs of settling in the range of 19 to 23 points (see Table 3). Keep in mind that the dampening of seasonality applies to total supermarket turnover and individual stores as well as the various supermarket chains may in fact still experience high seasonal fluctuations in sales. Graph 4 shows month by month sales seasonality for the period 2014-2018.
Table 3: High-Low spread in Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets, each year 2014-2018
Graph 4: Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets, month by month, 2014-2018
The increase in sales over the summer months is now evident.
Is this the new sales seasonality?
As a final note and parting thought, we added Graph 5 which shows the seasonality of supermarket sales over the last 2 years. Despite this being a relatively short period to look at, we found it interesting to see how strongly correlated the 2 years were (0.9) and the seasonal sales pattern that emerges. We are waiting for 2019 full year turnover data to assess if this is becoming the new sales norm.
Graph 5: Capita Sales Seasonality Index: Greek Supermarkets, month by month, 2017-2018