Reports from Greece indicate a drop of 20 percent in sales of footwear as well as clothing to consumers in the country. Besides the poor economy, consumers cut back their expenses due to the increase in the VAT rate from 19 to 23 percent and drop of nearly 20 percent in pension payments. Because of the situation, about 500 out of the 3,400 stores in downtown Athens have shut down in the past 10 months, with shoe and clothing retailers being the most affected.