Prices of blankets, carpets doubled in Latakia

Carpets for sale inside a store in the coastal city of Latakia - November 2, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Linda Ali)

Carpets for sale inside a store in the coastal city of Latakia - November 2, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Linda Ali)

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Enab Baladi – Latakia

One visit to one of the medium-quality carpet stores in the coastal city of Latakia was enough to make Aida erase the idea of buying a new carpet before the start of winter as a replacement for the damaged living room carpet in her home, which she has been using for more than ten years.

The 50-year-old woman said that the lowest price for a three-meter-long, three-meter-wide carpet was 800,000 SYP ($56), noting that she needed at least two to cover the area of ​​the sitting sofas of her entire house, meaning that she would have to pay 1,600,000 SYP, which is equivalent to her salary for eight months.

The woman thought of replacing the carpets with moquette, which is less expensive and has a lower price than carpets, but the price of one meter of them reached 160,000 pounds, which is the lowest price she obtained during her long research trip that included the markets of Slaiba and al-Ziraa neighborhoods.

Aida returned to her home disappointed, intending to spend this winter with her old carpet and try to repair the effects of time on it.

​​($1=14,050 SYP) according to the S-P Today website, which covers the trading rate of the Syrian pound to the dollar. 

A disaster for those affected by the earthquake

Mohammad, 38, who lost his house and all of its furniture in the Feb.6 earthquake, now needs to furnish an entire house with carpets, as he has young twins who are still in the crawling stage, and furnishing the house with carpets is not an option but a necessity.

The government employee, who also works as a taxi driver in the afternoon, could only buy a moquette for one room, for which he paid 700,000 pounds, hoping that he would later save another sum to buy carpets for the living room, while his mother gave him an old rug to use until he could buy a replacement.

Carpet prices had risen significantly compared to what they were last year when the price of a 3×3 square carpet did not exceed 300,000 pounds, and the price of a meter of moquette started at 50,000 pounds.

The late season period was usually attractive to customers, as offers on winter supplies abounded, but several years ago, specifically since 2019, this custom disappeared as a result of continued inflation. The merchant realizes from experience that prices will rise next year, so saving the carpets or clothes he owns would be a good way to save his money instead of selling them at a lower price.

The number of people affected by the earthquake in Latakia exceeded 142,000 people, and 805 deaths and 1,131 injuries were recorded in the governorate, and the number of completely collapsed buildings reached 967, in addition to 3,833 buildings in need of reinforcement and restoration.

Majority of customers are earthquake affectees

A carpet seller in the Slaiba market described the current situation as a disaster and said that the majority of his customers are earthquake victims who lost all their possessions along with their homes and now need new equipment. He added that he is trying as much as possible to help them, but the prices are not merciful to anyone, neither customers nor sellers.

The vendor, who refused to reveal his name, estimates the cost of furnishing an 80-square-meter house with carpets at about 5 million pounds for low-quality types, and the cost drops to approximately 3,200,000 pounds if the carpets are moquette, pointing out that the price does not include covering the entire floor, but rather covering the majority of it.

Blankets too

It does not seem that thick blankets will be available to the majority of the people of Latakia, as their prices have increased, estimated by the owner of a shop in the Slaiba market, between 150% and 200% compared to last season.

The price of a queen size winter blanket, that is, a wide blanket with a velvet side and another made of fur, is 500,000 pounds and rises to one million pounds depending on its type and thickness, while the price of a dacron blanket without velvet reaches 350,000 pounds.

The price of the 120 cm blanket is 350,000 pounds for velvet and 250,000 pounds for a dacron one.

While the prices of woolen blankets range between 700,000 and two million pounds, depending on their quality and thickness.

These prices cause suffering to those affected by the earthquake, the majority of whom are government employees or who work in private sector jobs with low wages, not exceeding 500,000 pounds at best, which prompted them to resort to the second-hand market, said the 45-year-old Hussam.

The public sector employee told Enab Baladi that he visited the popular Friday bazaar and bought several blankets of the quake’s aid at a price of 30,000 pounds each. Some earthquake aid and relief materials were sold in the markets due to the poverty situation that prevails in the region and for those affected.

It is not clear the source of the quake items that are abundantly present in the markets, especially in the Friday bazaar, which is known to have all of its items used or stolen.

Hussam explained that he also bought three used carpets at a price of 200,000 pounds each, in addition to several stainless steel kitchen utensils, as he lost everything he owned along with his house in the al-Datour neighborhood following the earthquake.

He added that he received relief aid after the destruction of his house, consisting of five sponge mattresses and five aid blankets, but they are not enough for his family, and the aid blankets alone cannot suffice for the purpose without another thicker blanket with them.

Ridiculous loan

The Syrian Trade Corporation grants a loan worth 5 million pounds to employees who wish to purchase household supplies from its showrooms, such as carpets, blankets, and others, with an annual interest of 12% of the value of the loan.

Many citizens consider the loan ridiculous, as its monthly installment amounts to about 100,000 pounds for a period of five years, an amount equivalent to half the salary of a government employee today.

The minimum government salary became approximately 186,000 pounds (about $13) after the public sector salary increased by 100% in mid-August.

Although these prices are considered irrational for the majority of the people of Latakia, the situation is getting worse for those affected by the earthquake, who are starting their lives almost from scratch after losing everything.

 

 

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