Heading towards the cheapest, electrical appliances market in Idlib declines
Enab Baladi – Huda al-Kulaib
With the return of power to several cities in the northwestern region of Syria, shops selling electrical appliances in Idlib, northwestern Syria, witnessed a remarkable turnout two years ago, following the coordination that took place between the Turkish Green Energy company and the General Electricity Corporation in northwestern Idlib city in May 2021.
The recovery of this sector did not last long in areas such as Idlib, al-Dana, Salqin, and Sarmada, as the trade in electrical appliances returned to stagnation after the high prices that occurred on the one hand and the prices of electricity on the other.
This has deprived a large segment of the people of Idlib from acquiring household electrical appliances due to their difficult living conditions, poverty, and weak purchasing power, in addition to the lack of job opportunities in the region.
Safaa al-Arbo, 31, a displaced woman from Khan Sheikhoun who resides in al-Dana town, has not yet been able to buy any household electrical appliances due to the insufficient monthly income to secure the basic necessities of life, as she works in a women’s clothing store with a low salary, she told Enab Baladi.
Al-Arbo added that the prices of Turkish electricity are always on the rise, as well as the prices of household electrical appliances, while her monthly salary does not exceed 1,000 Turkish liras, the amount that barely provides her and her three children with their daily sustenance.
Electricity prices are a hurdle
On 23 December 2022, the Green Energy company raised the household electricity tariff in Idlib so that the cost of using 1 to 150 kilowatt-hours is about 20.4 US cents, and from 150 kilowatts or more, each kilowatt is calculated at 22.4 US cents.
Rawan al-Bashir, 41, believes that electricity prices have recently become very expensive, even for the middle-income classes.
Although she owns most of the household electrical appliances, she uses them only at night and with constant “rationing” after returning from her work in a textile shop in the center of the town of al-Dana, north of Idlib.
The electricity bill that al-Bashir pays amounts to 400 Turkish liras per month, in exchange for operating some, but not all, tools, and only when necessary, considering that it is a large sum to which the house rent of 70 US dollars per month is added, in addition to the living expenses that burden her, while she is the only breadwinner to her family after her husband was unable to secure a job opportunity or a stable income.
As for Ola al-Sheikh, 39, who was displaced from the city of Maarat al-Numan, she told Enab Baladi that she brought electrical tools with her from her old house to Idlib when she was forced to flee, where she lives today in Sarmada camps.
Al-Sheikh does not use any of these tools except for the washing machine because she is unable to cover the increasing electricity costs, which exceed many times the financial capacity of her deteriorating family.
Demand increases in certain seasons
Louay al-Hussein, 38, an electrical appliance merchant in Idlib, said that the demand for household electrical appliances has become weak as a result of the weak purchasing power of the majority of the people in the area, who suffer from poverty and low wages.
Al-Hussein explained that the demand for purchasing electrical appliances becomes weaker in the winter season of each year when priority is given to purchasing heating means and materials, while all other matters are postponed to more suitable times.
He added that the demand for them is more in the summer, especially for refrigerators, and the demand for plasma screens has increased during the last period, in conjunction with the FIFA World Cup.
The merchant stated that the demand for household electrical appliances is limited to washing machines with two tubs due to their cheap price and low consumption of electricity, as their prices range between 80 and 110 US dollars, as well as cheap water heaters, whose price ranges between 15 and 20 US dollars.
Regarding the source of the electrical tools in the market, the merchant indicated that most of the goods are of various origins, including Turkish, which is the most present in the market, in addition to Uzbek, Chinese, and European used appliances, and most of the purchases are concentrated on goods that are less expensive and more in need.
The northwestern regions of Syria are witnessing poor living conditions amid a deteriorating economic reality, as the number of Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance reached about 14,600,000 people in 2022, after it reached 13,400,000 during 2021, according to the UN report issued on 23 February 2022.
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