CONSUMERS have started using baskets in place of trolleys when they shop, and putting the minimum amount of fuel in their vehicles, businesses said yesterday.

Bakeries, supermarkets and petrol stations said they had all been feeling the effects of the current economic meltdown while the public attempts to adapt to the stranglehold banks have placed on their accounts.

Some companies have tried to attract customers by offering special deals on products in an attempt to revive the market but suppliers’ insistence on cash payments has meant some gaps have begun to appear on store shelves.

“Unfortunately suppliers continue to demand payment in cash and with the current cash-flow problem the issue has understandably become much harder for everyone,” general-secretary for the small shop-owners union POVEK, Stefanos Koursaris said.

Head of the Bakeries Association, Lakis Savvides said bakers were paying their suppliers bit by bit. “Some shops have closed and others are expected to close in the coming months,” he said. “It is a desperate situation and there is a huge problem in meeting our operational needs,” he added.

People are now using baskets instead of trolleys to meet their shopping needs, according to the secretary of the supermarkets’ association, Andreas Hadjiadamou. “As long as capital controls are in place, there will be problems with our transactions,” he said. “We hope that eventually capital controls will be relaxed so the market can begin working properly again,” he added. Hadjiadamou said suppliers were  continuing with their demand to be paid in cash even though the banks have now opened, although he said he was expecting a possible change to that policy. “We are waiting to see their (suppliers) reaction now that banks have re-opened,” he said.

Head of the petrol station owners’ association, Stefanos Stefanou said many petrol stations were working much less than usual. “Because credit has been limited, work has also been limited,” he said. He said customers were putting the minimum amount of fuel in their cars to get by for one or two days at a time.

“What is affecting the smooth-running of the market is that some drug-importers are demanding cash payment,” pharmacist, Aristos Petrides said. He added that business was down but as the capital controls were relaxed, he believes the public will begin to return to their usual habits.

According to a manager at a Zorbas bakery, business has increased since they began giving special offers and discounts, although people have been only purchasing the basics, he said.

Owner of Twice As Nice confectionary Kikis Evripidou told the Cyprus Mail that he foresees a rocky few years but that better times were ahead. “As people become unemployed or get pay cuts then they will obviously begin to spend less so that will affect business but I haven’t sacked anyone and I will do my best not to sack anyone either,” he said. He felt that it was important that jobs were saved and people kept in employment even if businesses take a hit on their profits. “Of course things are not as good as six months ago but then six months ago wasn’t as good as two years ago but I have kept my standards up, and for me quality is what counts,” he added.

Cyprus Mail

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