Feature: Crisis-stricken Turks look for deals in New Year shopping

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-28 05:28:51|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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ANKARA, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- It's that time of the year when people go shopping to buy gifts for their loved ones for the new year and Turks seek for bargains and want to make the most of what is left in their pockets after a year marked by heavy financial strains.

"I look for the best deals and discounts. I have searched on the internet and made serious plans not to go over budget," Selva Demirci, an assistant clerk in a lawyers office, said to Xinhua in Kizilay, a shopping area in downtown Ankara.

"This year was really difficult for us and we want to spend our money carefully," Demirci said as she was entering the electronics store Teknosa which reduced prices in most of the items for the holiday.

"We are doing it for the people, we already reduced our prices by 10 percent as part of the government's inflation scheme and we have also added another 10 percent for the new year for many products," said an employee of the store.

Still, the mood of some shopkeepers is grim as prices have nearly doubled since 2017 because of the dramatic depreciation of the local currency, the lira, against the U.S. dollar since the summer amid a financial crisis.

The meltdown of the lira has sparked rising inflation and unemployment, and Turks have seen their purchasing power stumble amid austerity and public budget cuts announced by Ankara's officials.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government have said that the "worst is over" in the financial crisis and launched a crackdown against inflation encouraging shops to reduce voluntarily their prices as part as an "all-out fight" against inflation in October.

But the scheme which had limited effects on inflation and the rising cost of living according to experts, is planned to be discontinued at the end of the year amid expectations that prices will surge anew amid an economic slowdown.

Organized by a workers union, thousands of people have demonstrated last Saturday in Istanbul, Turkey's biggest city and financial heart, against the rising cost of living and crippling inflation.

The Turkish economy has come under heavy strain since a currency crisis in August and inflation reached 25.2 percent in October, a 15-year high. Although inflation dropped to 21.6 percent in November, the price of commodity remains high.

In Ankara, like in Istanbul, shopping centers were pinning their hopes on New Year's sales.

"So far the shopping centers here haven't witnessed dwindling sales during this holiday season. We are optimistically positive," Mehmet Nane, head of the Shopping Centers and Retailers Association told the Hurriyet Daily News.

"We observe that shoppers have trimmed their spendings and seeking for the best promos but they are still coming to buy presents for relatives and family members," said Mehmet, one shop owner in Ankara's Anatolium shopping mall.

Window shopping with his fiance, Efe Atim, a 26-year-old accountant in a private firm, said that it was getting more and more difficult to pay bills because of soaring fuel and heating prices who went up by 40 to 50 percent compared to last winter.

Atim also said that eating and drinking out has become a luxury which hefty price hikes in middle-class restaurants as well, especially on alcohol, impacting people's lifestyles.

Tourism professionals are also rather upbeat this New Year's holiday, which falls out in the weekend this year. According to press reports, an increase of nearly 100 million dollars is expected by the tourism sector.

In what he described as a gift for his citizens, Erdogan announced on Tuesday that the government has decided to discount residence electricity and gas prices by 10 percent in 2019.