Tunisia/ Alaa Hammoudi/ Anatolia
Tunisians: The financial situation is at its worst, and our purchasing power has greatly decreased as prices continue to rise
– Sabrine Jelassi, Professor of Sociology: Salaries are no longer able to cope with the rise in prices, which requires most Tunisians to rearrange priorities
– Sofiane Jamaï, an economist: consumer behavior is changing in line with the economic situation in the country, and the download season is no longer on the agenda of Tunisians
Usually, the markets of the capital, Tunis, witness overcrowding and endless negotiations between buyers and sellers about the price of goods, mostly clothes and toys for children, with the approach of Eid al-Fitr, especially on the last day of the holy month of Ramadan.
However, the deteriorating economic situation in Tunisia cast a shadow, as the demand for purchases in the capital’s markets was faint during the last day of Ramadan, Sunday May 1, 2022, on the eve of the first day of Eid al-Fitr.
It is not only about children’s clothes and toys, but everything Tunisians are used to buying to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which falls on Monday, May 2, in light of a turbulent economic and political situation.
The refusal to talk was quite clear on the part of merchants when asked about the preparations for the feast, the movement of the market and the extent of buyers’ turnout, and some merchants argued that he was not authorized to speak.
While merchants displaying goods on the sidewalks look right and left, fearing that their goods will be taken from them if they appear in newspapers or on screens, in light of accusations of monopoly traders.
Off-camera, Tunisians told Anadolu Agency that the financial situation of most of their citizens is at its worst.
They added that their purchasing power has greatly decreased as the prices of most basic items continue to rise, “so what about the needs of the holidays (!)”.
They added that many people are now buying their clothes and their needs for the holidays away from the peak period, as is the case in Ramadan, and the demand for purchase is greater during the period of price reductions.
In the streets of “Charles de Gaulle”, “Gamal Abdel Nasser” and “Bab al-Bahr” near the main street of the capital, overcrowding as usual in the presence of the “Ghala Hotel” market (a central market for vegetables, grain, meat, etc.).
You can see the shops and the display tables standing in the streets as far as the eye can see, but without the sellers and passers-by entering into the usual dialogues and negotiations to reduce prices, in the shadow of empty pockets.
The colors draw you in wherever you look: children’s clothes and sportswear of different “brands” (most of them are fake according to the sellers themselves), toys of different shapes and sizes with prices far beyond what a Tunisian can pay for a game that can be broken within hours.
During a tour of these well-known streets, Tunisians refused to talk about the reasons for not buying and the usual craving for collectibles and even Eid sweets.
Explaining this situation, Professor of Sociology Sabreen Jelassi told Anadolu Agency that “the material reality in Tunisia has changed.”
She explained that “salaries are no longer able to cope with the rise in prices, which requires a rearrangement of priorities for most Tunisians.”
And she continued, “The lack of demand for purchases, and the lack of eagerness for clothes and sweets, mainly during the Eid al-Fitr period, is caused by the economic crisis.”
She added that this crisis “changed the rules of the game for occasions, as most Tunisians buy Eid clothes before the sale period and outside peak times.”
She added that “the Tunisian budget, especially after the month of Ramadan, in which the expenses increase dramatically (…) makes any additional expenses not on the table during this period.”
“Even the well-to-do Tunisians may choose to buy second-hand clothes from international brands at low prices instead of high-priced imitation clothes,” Jelassi said.
And she continued, “The Tunisian will renew his thinking and rules over the months of the year so that he can identify with the variables of the economic situation in the country.”
And sellers in boutiques and even in the stores of major local and foreign brands on Habib Bourguiba Street, in turn, confirmed the reduction in purchases during the usual peak period, which is the second half of Ramadan.
Some choose to be satisfied with tours of the shops, to determine what they like, and to return to purchase during the sale period (discounts of commodity prices).
Traders believe that even the discount period is no longer an appropriate opportunity for shop owners to get out of their crisis due to the continuation of the austerity period that Tunisians have been experiencing for nearly two years (the beginning of the spread of the Corona virus), due to the repercussions of the economic crisis in the country and the continued rise in prices.
“The consumer behavior of Tunisians is changing in line with the economic situation in which the country is going through,” economist Sufian Al-Jamai told Anadolu Agency.
He explained that “the download season is no longer important in his (Tunisian) agenda, and even the dates of his regular purchases will change so that he can choose between different exhibits at acceptable prices, opposite the peak period.”
He continued, “Consumer stagnation during this period is expected after a lot of expenses in Ramadan.”
He stated that “some Tunisians live outside the spending area, and what they can earn is directed to regular expenses, and the direction to buy clothes and sweets is not an option during periods of crisis.”
Tunisians complain about sellers and traders not complying with the prices set by the authorities, as well as the high prices of clothes, especially for children, according to what the Anatolia team noted.
The Tunisian economy is facing the worst crisis since the country’s independence in the 1950s, due to political instability since the 2011 revolution that toppled then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and the repercussions of the Corona pandemic, amid calls for the authorities to carry out economic reforms.
The deterioration of the economic situation worsened under the weight of a severe political crisis in Tunisia since July 25, 2021, when its president, Kais Saied, began exceptional measures, including: dissolving Parliament and the Judicial Council, issuing legislation with presidential decrees, and early parliamentary elections to December 17, 2022.
Tunisian forces consider these measures a “coup against the constitution”, while other forces see them as a “correction of the course of the 2011 revolution.”
Saeed, who began a 5-year presidential term in 2019, said that his measures are “measures within the framework of the constitution to protect the state from an imminent danger.”
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