Early on a sunny Sunday morning in İstanbul, marketplaces have already started to fill up with people hunting for the best prices for what has become a traditional shopping time for them in Turkey. That explains the big, joyful smiles on the sellers' faces.
"Of course, people come to the marketplaces at other times, too, but the difference these days is that they come, do a little search throughout the market and fill their shopping bags with food. Indeed, the Eid has arrived," says a shopkeeper at Malatya Pazarı in İstanbul's famous Spice Bazaar, which sells dried fruits and various types of snacks that are traditionally consumed most often during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and even more during the following religious festival, Eid al-Fitr.
With people sometimes even forming long queues in front of their shops, sellers have substantially boosted their sales in most such marketplaces and traditional bazaars where people buy a great deal -- not just food but also clothes and shoes for their family members and themselves to wear during this special time, when relatives and neighbors come together and celebrate the spiritual gains of a full month of religious duties, prayers and supplications.
Marking the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is normally a three-day religious festival that this year will start on Tuesday and last through Thursday; however, the government announced that Monday and Friday are official holidays this week for all public and private employees, extending the leisure period during which people can ride on public transportation and use bridges and highways in their private vehicles for free for nine days. "That is spreading the bonus of the Eid over a much longer period for us," says another seller at a shoe store in İstanbul's Mahmutpaşa neighborhood, expressing gratitude to the executive branch for their decision.
The view from the marketplaces is not much different in Bursa, another province that is famous for its traditional bazaars. Speaking to Cihan, shopkeepers from the province's famous Long Bazaar said sales intensify over the weekends.
"As Eid al-Fitr draws near, entire families have started shopping. We have couples with children of all ages coming here and buying candies, pastries, clothes, fabric, shoes, travel bags and such. We sometimes cannot meet the demand and have to ask for more deliveries from wholesalers than we previously had agreed to. This is certainly beyond our most optimistic expectations," said Ayhan Kaya, a clothes seller in the bazaar.
Most of Kaya's colleagues say they have experienced a 40 percent jump in sales in the past week compared to the previous week, which was, they add, already above seasonal averages. "That shows the purchasing power of uncle Ali, aunt Ayşe -- ordinary people from our middle class. This is not how it used to be only a decade ago. After many years of economic troubles, they can only now enjoy the benefits of their hard labor, and we try our best to accommodate them with the lowest prices we can sell our products at. This is maintaining the vividness of life in our homeland," Kaya underlined.
A kilogram of candy is on sale for TL 6 to TL 30, depending on the quality, while chocolate bars sell for TL 6 to TL 20 in Bursa. Most cheap clothing is piled on wooden benches in what is called the public bazaar, while more expensive clothes are available in fancier stores located in mushrooming shopping malls. "Every product has a buyer. People come and purchase what they can and are happy because they know this is the kind of luxury they did not have in the past," Kaya added.
The Bursa Chamber of Trade and Industry (BTSO) has introduced the "From 7 to 70, Shopping for Everyone" campaign with over 6,000 shops across the province participating to help buyers find goods at lower prices, also lifting the total business volume before the long holiday period. "We expect shopping to continue until late in the evening every day till the first day of Eid al-Fitr, making everyone happy," said Bursa Chamber of Craftsmen and Artisans Chairman Arif Tak in remarks to the Anatolia news agency on Saturday. "Particularly in the Grand Bazaar, people can find quality clothing for prices they can afford," he added.
Most will stay home, saving on travel costs
A recent survey has found that most people in Turkey will not travel to another province for the nine-day vacation period, visiting relatives and neighbors in their city.
According to the MasterIndex survey from MasterCard, 83 percent of Turkish citizens will stay home for this year's Eid al-Fitr, whereas the remaining 17 percent are planning some sort of lengthy trip inside the country or overseas to take advantage of the long holiday.
The survey also found that 34 percent of the people have earmarked a particular budget for the holiday and will spend TL 515 ($295) on average. Thirty-eight percent of all those expenditures will be made via credit cards, the survey indicated as well.
CihanLast Mod: 28 Ağustos 2011, 17:36