Rome, April 24 (IANS/AKI) More than half of households in recession-hit Italy are regularly buying food at discount stores and slashing their medical expenses, the central statistics office Istat said.
Istat said 63.3 percent of families now shop regularly at discount supermarkets that continue to spring up in local neighbourhoods across Italy, buying cheaper brands that cost a fraction of the price of quality ones.
In Italy's poorer, less economically developed south, 73 percent of families regularly shop at discount stores, according to Istat.
As well as buying cheaper food, households are also buying less of it, Istat said.
Families have virtually eliminated routine medical checkups, blood-tests, x-rays and scans and are limiting their spending to essential drugs.
Italy is mired in its longest recession since 1993 and its fragile economy is only expected to make a weak recovery in 2014.
A total of 31,351 Italian firms went bust in the first quarter of this year, the highest figure since 2004. Unemployment has been predicted to reach 12 percent from 10.6 percent in 2012.