by Dana Halawi
BEIRUT, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Nicolas Chammas, head of the Beirut Traders Association, said on Friday that the formation of cabinet, if realized, will lead to an improvement in retailing.
"The formation of a government will boost consumers' confidence which will lead to some improvement in the retail activity," Chammas told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Chammas cited three factors impeding retail activities in Lebanon.
He said some Lebanese are reluctant to make a purchase because they have no confidence in the future with the absence of a government.
"These people will spend their money in Lebanon when the government is formed because they will make sure then that the situation has become stable," Chammas explained.
Another factor impeding retail activity in Lebanon is the high unemployment.
The Syrian refugees in Lebanon are fiercely competing with local workers, which led to higher unemployment and a reduction in the purchasing power, Chammas said.
A Lebanese official said more than three months ago that around 270,000 Lebanese people have lost their jobs after 384,000 Syrian refugees poured into the country's employment market.
Earlier this year, Lebanese President Michel Aoun told a delegation from the Lebanese Press Syndicate that the unemployment rate has increased to an alarming 46 percent.
The government formation will attract investment, which in turn, will create job opportunities and increase the purchasing power in the medium term, Chammas noted.
A third factor negatively impacting Lebanon's retailing is the bigger number of Lebanese travelling and spending in other countries such as Turkey, said Chammas.
He emphasized the need for the government to create awareness among the Lebanese about the importance of spending their money in Lebanon.
Merchants should also know about "the importance of not raising their prices when the demand is high in a bid to attract more consumers and keep their businesses running," he said.
According to a study published by Fransabank in cooperation with the Beirut Traders Association, the clothing sector witnessed a drop in sales by 21.89 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year.
Other sectors influenced include medical care with a drop of 19.69 percent, household appliance with 11 percent, food with 9.47 percent, construction material with 6.34 percent, and furniture with 5.12 percent.
The study recommends an urgent government formation to undertake necessary structural reforms to save economy and put it back on track for growth.
"If the government is formed, the retailing sector will need around six months to improve. We want this to happen for us to witness a revival of the sector in the second quarter of the coming year," Chammas said.