Retail Sales Down As Shoppers Take Cover

YERUSHALAYIM -

The frequent, unpredictable rocket barrages on southern and central Israel are starting to have an impact on retail sales, Globes reported on Thursday.

Nir Shmol, CEO of Snir, which markets shopping malls and centers, says the sharpest drop is being felt in the central region, rather than in the southern region, even though the latter has been hit much more heavily.

“Sales are off by an estimated 15-20%. The most significant fall is in the central region, because people who aren’t used to missiles being fired at their homes stay at home. The decrease in the south is estimated at 5-8%, because people there are used to carrying on under missile fire.”

As well as the drop in turnover, Shmol also noted a fall in the number of those visiting shopping centers, which he says is estimated at 30% in the center. This comes in the middle of end-of-season bargain sales, when business should have been peaking.

However, Big Shopping Centers VP and COO Hay Galis disagrees, insisting the biggest damage is to business in the south. “Regions under fire feel it more in the south, Beersheva, Kastina, and Kiryat Gat. In Beersheva, for example, fashion proceeds are off by 50%, or even more. Some stores are closing. We’re working with the authorities, and allowing stores to decide whether or not to open.

“The character of shopping is changing. The pharmacies and supermarkets, where people can make quick purchases, are still working and losing fewer sales. In the north, the situation is having an effect on the general atmosphere and the desire to go shopping. There is a 10-15% decline. Some shopping centers are experiencing no difference, such as in Kiryat Shmona, Karmiel, Nahariya, and the Haifa Bay area, where the mood is having only a negligible effect.”

Hamashbir Lazarchan VP retail Dudi Cohen noted that the company’s stores in “Ashkelon and Ashdod are definitely feeling a decrease. Our strategic decision was that all the stores would stay open as long as the Home Front Command does not order otherwise. There’s no big difference in the central and northern regions. We decided to take another 10% off our end-of-season sales.”