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10 Dec, 2014

Crisis-hit Italians cut Christmas shopping: study

ROME, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) — As Christmas, the most popular feast day in Italy on Dec. 25, gets close, household spending continues the record drops in the crisis-plagued country.

According to a recent report by consumer group Codacons, Christmas spending since before the outbreak of the global economic crisis has fallen by as much as roughly 45.5 percent in Italy.

In 2007, Italians during the month of December spent around 18 billion euros (22 billion U.S. dollars) on food, leisure activities and presents. This December they are expected to spend less than 10 billion euros, Codacons said.

A tax reduction plan which gave low wage earners an average of 80 euros a month started earlier this year by the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has not encouraged Christmas shopping, Codacons head Carlo Rienzi said commenting on the report.

“Italians will cut 2014 Christmas spending by an additional 5 percent compared to last year, by saving money especially on clothing, footwear, travel and home furnishings,” Rienzi said in a statement.

Nearly 12 million Italians will buy low-cost presents at the many street markets which are typical of Italian cities during the Christmas period, Italy’s largest farm association Coldiretti said in another study released on Tuesday.

Each family was estimated by Coldiretti to have a budget for Christmas presents of around 200 euros, some 20 percent below the European average.

A research released by Censis think tank at the end of last week highlighted that the economic crisis has spread a deep sense of “vulnerability” among Italian families.

The research found that many households have confronted the crisis by adopting a “zero consumption” lifestyle, while seeing cash as a necessary protection.

Between 2007 and 2013, all categories of Italian family financial assets recorded drops, except cash and bank deposits, which increased in real terms by 4.9 percent, Censis said.

Renzi’s center-left government is struggling to pull out Italy from persisting economic stagnancy especially by combatting unemployment and stimulating investment.

Italy’s national statistics institute Istat has revised down the country’s accumulated gross domestic product (GDP) growth for so far in 2014 to down 0.4 percent, compared to its previous estimate of down 0.3 percent. (1 euro = 1.23 U.S. dollars)