Sales in Greece's retail food sector totaled 18.6 billion euros (net pre-VAT) in 2016, the Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA) said in a report released on Thursday.

IELKA said that a 50.05 pct of these sales (9.3 billion euros) was made through specialised stores, while the remaining 49.95 pct (9.3 billion euros) through supermarket stores. The survey said that supermarkets slightly raised their market share to 49.95 pct in 2016 from 49.55 pct in 2015.

The survey analysed the financial results of 38 supermarket enterprises in the sector, with combined sales of 7.9 billion euros in 2016, up 15.16 pct from 2015, and said that the supermarket sector performed better than the total retail food sector in the year.

The survey, citing Hellenic Statistical Authority data, said supermarket stores recorded an 1.73 pct increase in sales in the first nine months of 2017, while smaller retail food stores recorded an 1.83 pct decline in the same period.

IELKA said that organised retail food continues to have significant growth prospects, with supermarkets and groceries stores accounting for 60 pct of the domestic food market, down from an average rate of 77 pct in the EU and more than 90 pct in Northern Europe.

The retail food sector recorded a decline of around 2.0 pct or 375 million euros in 2016.