‘We are sure that our takings will be at least as much as last year’s Christmas period, if not more’

A “productive and profitable” festive period is expected this year, supermarkets’ association director Andreas Hadjiadamou has told the Cyprus Mail.

The Christmas season is often a bumper time for store owners, and this winter is expected to be no different, he said.

“I am sure we will once again see increased numbers of people walking through our shop doors and spending money this festive period. The number of people visiting shops has already been on the rise since Friday [December 15], and that has gone hand in hand with more money going through the tills,” he said.

Hadjiadamou’s bullish optimism comes at a time when others have been fearful that the rising cost of living may put paid to the routinely expected Christmas bump in shop sales.

When asked about the potential impact of people cutting back on festive expenditure, he was characteristically confident that the Christmas period would still see an increase in shops’ income.

“Every year something happens. Some years, there are economic crises, in others we had the pandemic, now we are being warned of a cost of living crisis and people cutting back on spending to make ends meet, and yet despite this, every year we see sales rise at Christmas,” he said.

He said shops were not expecting a big impact on profits due to the increased cost of living.

“No matter what the economic conditions, ordinary Cypriots want to put on a table spread for their families. This drives people to buy things from supermarkets, and these purchases are consistent every Christmas and every Easter,” he said.

He said this tradition is being helped on its way by special offers targeted at consumers, and that he expected Cypriot consumers to respond well to the price ranges on offer over the festive period.

“We are sure that our takings will be at least as much as last year’s Christmas period, if not more. There is no question of us seeing decreased profits this year. We are expecting a productive period for our shops,” he said.

Not all shoppers shared Hadjiadamou’s bullish optimism, however. When the Cyprus Mail took to the streets of Paphos, one woman named Zoe explained that the rising cost of living is “taking a toll on me and my family”.

“For some reason, supermarkets here are more expensive here than in places like London or Dublin. That makes it very difficult to afford the essentials, let alone satisfy my mother in law’s expectations!” she said.

Meanwhile, Christina saw her best chance at buying something worthwhile as coming in the January sales.

“To be honest, I’m more excited for the sale season after the holidays but even then, this year I’m not expecting anything too exciting, especially after Black Friday was a disappointment this time around,” she said.

“I’m a bit more conscious this year than in previous years with my Christmas shopping, and we used to spend a lot more on food in previous years.”

She added that meat was now really expensive.

“Although now they have got rid of the tax on vegetables it’s going a bit better, but you can’t have a Christmas table that’s just made up of salads.”

The commerce ministry earlier this week conceded that supermarkets had increased the cost of lamb in anticipation of the growing demand, and charged this was completely unjustified and was clearly done to profit off the holiday period.

But they added that the price of vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and greens –and other meat had gone down.

Out of 45 products monitored, 28 of them marked a steep decline in prices. Of those, 10 had a more than three per cent decrease.

Vegetables for instance saw an 8 per cent price drop, fresh fish and molluscs went down by 10.4 per cent and vegetable cooking fat by 14.8 per cent.

The price of frozen fish decreased by 9.1 per cent, frozen molluscs-shellfish by 6.5 per cent, Cypriot coffee 3.7 per cent, instant coffee 4.9 per cent, flour 4.5 per cent, sugar 1.7 per cent, laundry detergent 3.3 per cent and toilet paper 3 per cent.

Cyprus Mail research shows that customers can expect to pay around €25 for a standard four-kilo turkey, while a joint of gammon will cost around €7. A whole duck will set consumers back around €16.

Festive charcuterie boards are priced at around €30, while there are various different price points for alcohol consumption across the board.

Whisky will set drinkers back anywhere between €10 and €140 for a bottle, while gin is typically priced between €10 and €30. A bottle of supermarket own-brand vodka will go for as little as €8, while higher price points up to around €40 for a bottle are also available.

Champagne is being sold at price ranges between €25 and €80, while a bottle of sparkling wine can be found for as little as €6.

In the north, things are generally cheaper, if not drastically so.

Turkeys, as is typical with meat products, are actually more expensive, at an average of 250TL (€7.88) per kilo. This would mean a four-kilo turkey would cost around €31.50 – significantly above the price point in the Republic.

Fresh seasonal vegetables are generally slightly cheaper in the north, retailing at around 25TL (€0.79) per kilo compared to over €1 per kilo in the Republic.

Pricing for alcohol is generally cheaper, with the average bottle of whisky in the north selling for around 475TL (€14.96) and products such as beer and wine retailing for lower prices than in the Republic.

A kilo of baklava in the north currently sells for around 250TL (€7.88), while kataifi is on sale for around 158TL (€4.98) per kilo.