December 18, 2007

Slow Seasonal business ...Why?

Uhm Ali Charity Gorilla campaign, Sameen the friend of the Poor, Photo by: Emad Salameh

You can read below an interesting analysis for the drop in the seasonal sales. Yes, it's about the economics that I am not gonna talk about here, however, I see other factors need to be mentioned:

1) Psychology of the consumers: The city is becoming one of the most depressing cities in the world. You hardly can see someone smiling, laughing, or happy about his status. So, people don't have that motive to celebrate the holidays.

2) Alternative "new" Stores and Shopping Malls:
the increased number of shopping malls and discount stores is taking a large percentage of sales than the traditional street market stores especially in the winter season. Ex: City mall and Le Carrefour .

3) Traffic:
The increased city traffic congestion affects the purchasing power especially when shopping at major hubs like: Downtown, Jabal Hussein, and Swefieh.

4) Availability of parking spots:
Finding a parking spot is becoming a nightmare especially in street markets, while the malls have enough car parking comparing to the municipality that's not providing enough spots.

5) The Political instability of the surrounding countries like: Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. Which makes us unwilling to celebrate the holidays.

6) Sales Strategy: Even this is the Season we can't see any real Sales. If it's the holiday season shouldn't the retail shops start thinking about making a real sales on the merchandises that coincide with the Holidays season? With low profit margins they can sell more.

And as mentioned, the increase in the prices of Sweets especially after the latest rise in the Sweets Bakery and Nuts.

We need to search for the real reasons behind our problems in order for us to find the right solutions.

I sound pessimistic, but, I have to be honest and say what I feel. There are some good initiatives in the country, but, I see other indications that need to be taken more seriously.

AMMAN (JT)- The holiday season, especially this year when Eid Al Adha is immediately followed by Christmas, was hoped to be the high season for various businesses, but shopkeepers say the situation is disheartening so far.

Garment, sweets, nuts, coffee and shoes vendors said Monday business was so much “below expectation”.

“We expected that the government’s decision to disburse salaries to civil servants and the army before Eid Al Adha would send the market thriving, but it is not happening,” said Zeid Abu Wazzan, a garment retail-shop owner in Jabal Hussein. Abu Wazzan, who also owns a wholesale store, attributes slow business to two major factors. “The prices of clothes are more expensive than they were before Eid Al Fitr [in October]. Plus, the weather is not stable and retailers are reluctant to buy from wholesale shops. Thus there is not much for people to buy anyway.“ A men’s clothes shopkeeper in downtown Amman said: “Our sales for Eid Al Adha are below 40 per cent of Eid Al Fitr sales.” In his view, the economic situation makes it hard for people to buy new clothes for family members for both occasions separated by 70 days, so they usually buy for Eid Al Fitr and keep the same clothes to use for Al Adha. The Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported on Monday that markets of second-hand clothes in Irbid were witnessing crowds of customers due to the unaffordable prices of brand-new items. Hard times do not haunt the garment business alone. A sales assistant at a nut and chocolate store in Sports City told The Jordan Times that there is decline in demand. “Usually, the few days before either eid, people buy coffee, chocolates and nuts to offer their guests, but for this eid, sales are down, compared to past years,” he said. “I think the drop in sales is due to the increase in prices of nuts by an average of 30 per cent, especially after imposing sales tax on some kinds of nuts. In addition, the price of milk almost doubled recently, which led to increases the prices of chocolates and consequently a reduction in sales,” the shop employee told The Jordan Times. Employees at sweets shops in Amman said they hope that Tuesday will change the trend, especially since people like to buy the eid sweet, mamoul, fresh. But so far, the season is not that favorable. Even beauty salons and hairstylists say that customers for this eid are smaller in number than they were in the previous eid. “Customers are not as many as we witness ahead of eids,” said Abu Walid, an owner of a barbershop in Abdali. He attributed the slow business partly to the cold weather and the economic situation. “When they have to choose between food and a haircut, they definitely go for food,” he said. Meanwhile, Samah Abdul Karim, a hairstylist at a hair salon in west Amman’s Seventh Circle area, said the saloon is already overcrowded with women and girls of different ages, yet business is not as thriving as it was in the days preceding Eid Al Fitr. For shoe stores, however, the case was different. Shopkeepers said that people in any case need to buy shoes for the cold season, so they tend to wait till the eid to do that. Eid Al Adha this year coincides with winter solstice, also known as midwinter, which occurs around December 21 or 22 each year in the northern hemisphere, marking what is known in the traditional culture as the marbaniyeh, or the coldest 40 days in the year.

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