High prices deny Syrians Eid’s joy… Clothes trade retreats in al-Qunaytirah
Enab Baladi – al-Qunaytirah
The residents of al-Qunaytirah city in southern Syria have been suffering from a sharp rise in commodity prices, just like the rest of the Syrian provinces. This has affected the commercial activity, especially for goods considered as “luxuries,” such as clothes.
Commodity prices were adversely affected by the rise of the US dollar exchange rate to about 1,800 Syrian pounds (SYP) during the third week of this May.
The most prominent reason for the Syrian pound decline is the impact of the Syrian regime government’s measures to confront the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy.
Another contributed factor to the devaluation of the pound is the ongoing dispute between Rami Makhlouf (a wealthy Syrian businessman, and the first cousin of Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad,) and the Syrian regime.
Enab Baladi‘s correspondent in al-Qunaytirah roamed its markets during the preparations for Eid al-Fitr, which will be on 24 May. He monitored the clothes’ purchasing activity, the prices of some goods, and the impressions of some sellers and buyers.
The current prices are many times higher than they were in 2019
One of the clothing salesmen estimated the percentage of the price increase to be between 75 and 120 percent compared to 2019. He expects this rise to continue within the current economic conditions.
For instance, compared to prices in 2019, the average price of a dress for girls is sold today at the price of 20,000 (SYP = 10 USD), while it was around 10,000 (SYP = 10 USD) in 2019.
Nowadays, a pair of children’s jeans is worth 6,000 (SYP = 3 USD) while it was sold at the price of 2,500 (SYP = 2 USD) in 2019.
A sweater for children is priced at 5,000 (SYP = 2 USD), after it was previously sold for 2,000 (SYP = 2 USD).
Clothes’ prices vary according to the type and quality of their fabrics. Nevertheless, clothes in Syria are often manufactured by local workshops; therefore, their designs are very similar.
This makes the prices generally close, but still, they exceed people’s purchasing capacity.
The decline of commercial activity
The price increase affected the clothes’ sales and decreased them during the current year by more than 50 percent compared to the sales in 2019, according to the estimations of one of the child’s clothing sellers in al-Qunaytirah’s markets.
The clothing salesman attributed the price hike to the deterioration of the pound’s value, and the high cost of shipping between the provinces.
He said the high prices of shipping are due to the high fuel costs, and the money amounts paid to the Syrian regime’s security checkpoints to allow the passing of the goods and avoiding having to take out the loads outside of the cargo vehicles and reloading them again.
Enab Baladi‘s correspondent monitored a state of hesitation among some buyers. For example, one woman who is a mother of three children and a governmental employee complained that buying one piece of clothes for each of her three children costs 45,000 (SYP = 24 USD), while her salary does not exceed 60,000 (SYP = 32 USD).
The price increase included not only children’s clothing, but also women’s and men’s clothing, and even footwear, in the midst of the deterioration of Syrians’ purchasing capacity.
The United Nations (UN) estimated the proportion of Syrians below the poverty line at 83 percent, according to its annual report of 2019 regarding Syria’s most urgent humanitarian needs.
Meanwhile, Syria’s purchasing power index has declined considerably, reaching 8.8 points, which was classified as “very low” by the international database website for living conditions worldwide, Numbeo.
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