Feature: Iraqis turn to online retail due to COVID-19 pandemic

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-18 18:15:25|Editor: huaxia

IRAQ-BAGHDAD-ONLINE RETAIL-COVID-19

Online retailer Ashraf Jameel (R) shows bicycles to a customer in Baghdad, Iraq, on Sept. 17, 2020. (Xinhua)

BAGHDAD, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- The nationwide lockdown in Iraq and the fear of being infected with coronavirus have kept consumers from going shopping in stores. Iraqi retailers quickly shift to alternatives, such as online trading.

Mohammed Hamed, 30, used to have a furniture store in central Baghdad, but he had to close it due to the spread of the pandemic.

"The deadly and highly contagious coronavirus as well as the restriction measures taken by the government have greatly reduced the commercial movement in the markets. I have to close my store because I was not able to afford the rent," Hamed said.

After weeks of having no job, Hamed turned to sell goods on social media by creating and managing a Facebook page.

However, many online retailers faced huge obstacles when the Iraqi government imposed the nationwide curfew as part of restriction measures to curb the spread of the virus.

After closing his women's shoes and handbags store and shifted to online retail, the 32-year-old Mustafa Basim still faced many problems. For instance, the goods filled the children's play area in the hall and narrowed the spaces for his wife in the kitchen.

"Despite the accumulation of goods in my small apartment and its negative impact on the daily life of my family, we are obliged to support each other until we get over this difficult time," Basim told Xinhua.

Consumers, on the other hand, believe that online shopping nowadays is safer to avoid being infected with the coronavirus.

"As a father of two children, shopping online has helped reduce my fears of transmitting the infection to my children. Before COVID-19, I used to go to markets and malls to buy my house's needs with my family, but the pandemic forced me to turn to online shopping," said Omar Dhia, 39, an online consumer.

Many believe that online commercial activity has positive sides, including saving time and effort and offering more choices with different prices.

"Before the booming of online retail in Iraq, I used to spend hours in traffic jams to buy whatever I need. And now all I need to do is searching for any product on the internet which will be delivered to me with a reasonable time and a suitable price," Dhia said.

Due to the high rate of unemployment among people, especially college graduates, many young men have started online trade with well-known shopping websites like Amazon and Alibaba.

After his graduation from university in 2016, Ashraf Jameel couldn't find a job.

"I decided to buy a small number of bicycles from the Alibaba website to sell them on Facebook because many Iraqis started to use bicycles to go out to avoid using public transportation due to the fear of the spread of virus," Jameel said. Enditem

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