Flashy boots have become an early casualty in debt-hit Greece where thousands of thrift-minded women are switching to rubber wellingtons instead, top-selling Greek daily Ta Nea said this week.
At a time when the recession-hit country's government plans tax hikes and benefit cuts, boot sales have fallen up to 20 percent while their humble rubber cousins are flying off the shelves, the daily said Friday.
"Boots were supposed to have been a vital accessory this year but the crisis and mild weather changed all that," Christos Doryzas, a commercial manager at Greek shoemakers Dexim, told the newspaper.
Greek shoppers usually wait for the January sales to replenish their winter wardrobes but some manufacturers were running out of Wellingtons even before the store offers began earlier this month, Ta Nea said.
"Greek women would never have dared appear in Wellington boots a few years ago," said Argyris Georgoudas, general manager of a shoe company that represents British shoemakers Clarks and Swiss-based Bally in Greece.
"But their sales have been rising for the past three years, and this year there was a real spurt in the market," he said.
Rainboot sales are currently up around 30 percent, bucking a 15-20 percent fall in overall shoe sales.
Greeks spend an estimated 1.5 billion euros (two billion dollars) a year on shoes, the paper said.