Reuters

Gift purchases are dow n, Christmas lights are dim, and families are suffering.

The euro zone debt crisis has put a damper on this festive time of year in southern Europe. In Greece, families say they're turning off the heat and skipping meat at Christmas dinner. Lisboners will be cutting back on gifts (one cleaning lady told Reuters she will only give "bare necessities"). And Italian civil servant Nadia di Santo, 38, told the outlet:

"I am buying no gifts this year. None, except for the children. Last year I bought presents for everyone, friends and family ... I have put up the tree, although I am using the same decorations as last year. I will sort something out for Christmas dinner."

Shop owners haven't been spared. Many report a steep drop in sales, along with unusually quiet storefronts. "We were selling three times as much this time last year," butcher Jesus Cerelo told Reuters.

Things are worst in Greece. According to one resident:

"Family is very important to us Greeks so the worst thing is when you are not able to provide for them," said 70-year-old pensioner Nikos Tsakos. Two of his three children, in their 30s and 40s, are out of work and he has two small granddaughters.

"Sometimes my wife and I cry when we realise we will not be able to buy the girls toys this year ... we cut back on everything - decorations, food. How can you celebrate when things are so bad?"

A woman browses through Christmas items on sale at a toy store in Madrid. (Susana Vera/Reuters)
A man walks past a discount toy store during Christmas shopping season in Madrid. (Reuters)



People pass by a stand with signs displaying low prices in a market on Palma de Mallorca on the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca. (Enrique Calvo/Reuters)

People eat pasta at a soup kitchen in a small square at Keratsini suburb, west of Athens. (Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)

 

A woman leaves a shoe store in Madrid December. Banner reads "Clearance sale. Last Days. Shoes 1euro". (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Videos

    5 Ways to Seriously Battle Traffic

    So long as cars are among us, road pricing, ramp meters, diamond-shaped intersections can mitigate horrendous commutes, a new video explains.

  2. Tomatoes, scallions, asparagus, and other vegetables spread out on a table
    Life

    For Peak Happiness, Spend Money to Save Time

    A study suggests time-saving services like meal delivery and housekeepers boost life satisfaction—for the purchaser, of course.

  3. Transportation

    Why Are Manhattan's Streets Getting Slower?

    The average speed of traffic has been falling for years, and it’s having a ripple effect on the city’s transit network.

  4. A Syrian refugee holds her child as she begs on the streets of Beirut.
    Life

    The Social Ties Urban Refugees Need

    To make a good life in a new city, recent research stresses that refugees must connect with those outside their national or ethnic group.

  5. Equity

    Why Some Women Don't Actually Have Privacy Rights

    A law professor explores the reasons why women who need government assistance are forced to divulge intimate details of their lives.