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. Transportation

    Why New York City Stopped Building Subways

    Nearly 80 years ago, a construction standstill derailed the subway’s progress, leading to its present crisis. This is the story, decade by decade.

  2. The central business district in Beijing, one of the world's emerging tech hubs
    Life

    The Rise of the Rest (of the World)

    American cities still have the edge when it comes to high-tech startups and venture capital, but other parts of the world are rapidly catching up.

  3. Villa 31, an informal settlement in Buenos Aires
    Equity

    The Global Housing Crisis

    Scarce, unaffordable housing is not a local problem in a few places, but is baked into the 21st-century global city. It’s time for cities, nations, and global leaders to start acting like it.

  4. Equity

    Barcelona Forces Banks to Turn Repossessed Homes Into Affordable Housing

    To address a housing shortage, Spain’s second city says bank-owned properties can no longer sit empty.

  5. Cars sit in a traffic jam while cyclists ride by in Central London.
    POV

    London's Congestion Charge Is Showing Its Age

    After 15 years of existence, London’s method of congestion charging is dated. It needs to be bigger, longer, and greedier.