Greeks overseas buy groceries for family back home

2015-07-03 07:15
People stand in a queue to use the ATM to withdraw cash at a bank in Athens. (Aris Messinis, AFP)

People stand in a queue to use the ATM to withdraw cash at a bank in Athens. (Aris Messinis, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Half a world away from the crisis unfolding in Greece, Nelly Skoufatoglou is shopping online for toilet paper, detergents, rice and olive oil to be delivered to her mother's home near Athens.

Skoufatoglou is one of tens of thousands of Greek Australians who have fled to Australia to escape the economic woes of her birthplace, making Melbourne her new home just under a year ago.

She's now finding inventive ways to support the family she left behind and to dodge the restrictions on money transfers and cash withdrawals by locals in Greece.

One way is buying groceries online via the Carrefour Greece website from her desk in Melbourne for delivery to her mother.

"I called my mum and asked her what she needed," Skoufatoglou told Reuters by phone from Melbourne. "I bought olive oil, rice, cheese, groceries, detergent, toilet paper, just basic goods."

Skoufatoglou, a journalist with Greek language publication NeosCosmos in Melbourne, had been sending money to her Australian-born mother via the banks until they restricted withdrawals. She then turned to Western Union, which this week blocked transfers to Greece.

"Shopping online means that she [her mother] doesn't have to queue up at ATMs running out of money to get basic supplies," she said.

Carrefour in Greece, which is owned by the Marinopoulos Group after the French supermarket chain sold its stake in its Greek operations in 2012, said it did not collect data on overseas sales but said general demand for its goods had increased over the past three days.

‘This is how we help’

In Baltimore in the United States, Nely Kostopoulou is also shopping online for family in Greece. Kostopoulou said her mother's pension had been cut by almost 30% to 700 euros per month, while her sister is long-term unemployed.

"A lot of relatives have to split their skinny pension with their kids and their families because none has enough to go through the month," she told Reuters via email.

"Buying the groceries every month is another way to help."

The Carrefour Greece website, which is operated by an external company, Caremarket, accepts credit cards from several other nationalities as payment, although it has barred bank transfers.

Caremarket did not immediately return calls for comment.

Demand risen, supply the same

Marinopoulos spokesperson said that while demand has risen, it was not experiencing any problems with its supplies.

"So far when it comes to suppliers we are not having any issue," the Marinopoulos spokesperson told Reuters. "What we cannot predict in the future is what happens if the consumers' behaviour changes."

Bill Papastergiadis, president of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne, said avoiding money transfers and using private business channels to support relatives makes sense.

"The private sector system works very effectively in Greece and there are delivery networks around the country," he said.

Skoufatoglou's only concern is that this most recent avenue of support will also slam shut.

"Then what we do, I don't know," she said.

Read more on:    greece  |  greece debt crisis

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.