Israelis spent a lot of money over the summer – but, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics, a good chunk of that money was spent abroad, as some two million Israelis vacationed outside the country. At home, meanwhile, business was down – because many of the potential consumers were not around to consume.
While not in dire straits, businesses felt the slowdown in transactions. Between March and June of this year, credit card transactions were up an annual 9.3% over each previous month, but in July and August, that increase was just 4.3%. The CBS figures also showed that despite the extremely hot weather, especially in August, demand for electricity and water slipped compared to the spring – and despite the fact that summer is vacation time, demand for gasoline was also less than expected. While the average demand increase over the previous four months was 11.9% monthly compared to the previous month, during July and August demand was up only 8%.
Food and drink sales experienced the same trend; between March and June, demand was up 7.1% monthly in that sector, while in July and August the demand increase was just 3.5%. Clothing sales did not increase at all during the summer months – meaning that the sector actually lost 2% in sales over the previous summer, given the increase in population. CBS officials and industry experts were in agreement over the reason: Israelis were spending their money in shops abroad, as international travel by Israelis set records this summer.
One consolation for retailers came on the Friday before Rosh Hashanah – traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year in Israel. The day did not disappoint; credit card sales recorded a record level, 10% over the previous record.