Fear of the financial unknown has sent many Greeks into a spending frenzy, using debit cards to buy anything they believe will hold its cash value, and even paying their taxes in advance before their money has the possibility of losing its value or being seized by the Government or banks.
Appliance and electronics chains report items literally going out the door as quickly as they come in. Despina Drisi, a sales associate at Kotsovolos, one of the largest appliance stores in Athens which caters to a upper-middle class demographic, said the last few weeks have been some of the busiest he has seen in his 12 years at the store.
“We have sold so much. We even sold display models. People have been pulling at my sleeves. We’re spacing things out now to cover the holes on the shelves.” he said.
Athens accountant Antonis Mouzakis said people are even wanting to pay their taxes rather than see the money they have possibly lose its value.
“Panicked doesn’t begin to describe how people feel. I have a huge number of customers wanting to file their taxes right here, right now, to have the tax calculated and paid instantly before a possible haircut. Even if the tax is 40 to 50 thousand euros, they pay it off in one go.”
In what many outside Greek may see as something contrary to usual Greek business practice, and completely opposite to what the Greek Government has done of late, many companies were attempting to pay off their debts quickly.
Mouzakis said they would rather pay off their debts now in case their bank deposits were annexed in a deal to rescue the country's banks. He said business owners know only to well what happened in nearby Cyprus in 2013 where during a bank bailout, bank customers with over 100,000 euros lost approximately 40 percent of their deposits.
Athens jeweler George Papalexis said he had one customer who wanted to buy jewelry worth one million euros but he refused to sell because he felt more secure having the jewelry as an asset rather than risking depositing it into a Greek bank. He said he could not really believe what he had done but "I had to turn down the deal. It’s a measure of the risk we face".
Although well off Greeks are being driven into panic buying, there are millions of Greeks who have no money to spend - the 25 per cent of the population who have lost jobs, the retired and those on Government benefits or pensions who have seen their pensions cut as the Government runs out of money.