By Jean Christou
Some 17 per cent of households have seen their income plummet by more than 50 per cent since the financial crisis, a survey released on Wednesday found.
The survey carried out by the Cyprus Consumers Union and Quality of Life, also showed that a further 10 per cent of households had seen their income drop 41-50 per cent while 11 per cent had seen their income fall 31-41 per cent. Around 22 per cent saw a reduction in their income of 21-30 per cent and 23 per cent of those polled had income cuts of 11-20 per cent. Only 14 per cent had income reductions of less than 10 per cent.
Comparing the situation to last year, the survey showed that 27 per cent were facing financial difficulties, up from last year’s 20 per cent, and 24 per cent said they were just ‘getting by’.
One third see their situation as getting worse in the next 12 months, while 12 per cent see theirs becoming ‘much worse’. Twelve per cent think their situation will get better and 39 per cent see theirs as remaining the same.
Compared to 52 per cent of people at same time last year, 59 per cent now say prices are higher that they were a year ago.
As far as changing shopping habits are concerned, 25 per cent say they purchase a lot of special offers, 24 per cent go for cheaper brands, 16 per cent buy the cheapest items they can find, and 16 per cent buy only special offers. Around 15 per cent have not changed their shopping habits at all.
The Consumers Union and Quality of Life said shoppers rights were not respected in Cyprus and has called for a two-day mass boycott this month.
“Fraud and profiteering in the market are everywhere and every day it gets worse,” said Loucas Aristodemou, adding that free market competition in Cyprus was a sham with price cartels “working undisturbed and unpunished”.
“Note the daily decline in the purchasing power and quality of life of you and your children,” he added.
Referring to the global fall in oil prices in recent months, which lowered production costs, he said there had not been a corresponding drop in the price of consumer goods “even the basic necessities such as bread and milk” which were three times higher than other EU countries.
“For the past two years prices have plummeted in all EU countries and have only soared in Cyprus,” he added.
The state, he said, was being negligent and showing interest in everything except the consumer. Aristodemou urged people to stand up and be counted and show that it was the consumer who has the power to change things, instead of always paying up and staying silent.
He calls on all consumers on Saturday March 14 and Sunday march 15 to participate in a boycott by not buying a thing on both days
“Do not buy fuel, bread, milk or anything else. We invite you – if there are no health reasons – not to put your foot in any commercial premises, and avoid all markets,” he added. “Devote the two days to you and your family. Show that you will not allow anyone to underestimate your intelligence, to ridicule and to exploit you. Two days is a very small step but the message you send is of great importance. Show your indignation and your determination to all those who want your money but do not respect you.”
The organisation also calls on the Cyprus Consumers Association and the consumer offices of all trade unions to join the boycott.
The survey of 1,000 people islandwide was carried out in January by Cypronetwork Marketing Research.