Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat—Jordanian business owners are ready to meet shoppers’ expectations during the upcoming Eid Al-Fitr festival, when Muslims traditionally wear new clothes and exchange gifts, even though people seem worried by the financial demands of Eid and the new school year just around the corner.
“Clothing traders have finished their preparations for Eid Al-Fitr, having imported large quantities of various types of clothes from various countries,” said Asa’ad Al-Qawasmi, a textile sector representative at the Jordanian Chamber of Commerce.
Most goods in the Jordanian market, including textiles, are made in China, Turkey, India and Egypt, allowing even Jordanians of modest income to partake in this Eid tradition.
The value of clothing and shoes imported in preparation for Ramadan this year has exceeded 25 million US dollars, Qawasmi said.
But Qawasmi added that some business owners were worried by the 10-percent drop in some clothing and footwear prices over the last Ramadan. He described this years’ sales as “acceptable,” but clothing traders are hoping to see business pick up this week, the final week of Ramadan—and, incidentally, the week in which most employees’ salaries are paid.
Khitam, who works in a ladies’ clothes shop, said: “Trade activity is still in its infancy these days, but shopping activity becomes a little stronger after the fast-breaking.” She seemed hopeful that sales would “increase in the next few days,” possibly compensating for the quiet period.
But Bilal Youssef, a customer, said rising prices and the corresponding decline in living standards were stretching some families too far. Second-hand clothes, he said, had become the only way some families could provide for their needs during this busy season, first with Eid and then with the start of a new school term.
Another customer, May Nasser, said: “If you look at the situation of employees and retired people in Ramadan, Eid and back-to-school, you’ll see crowded banks. You’ll see the suffering of the people, because the burdens of life have become too big.”
Bassem Al-Malkawi, who was also out shopping, said workers had been put in a difficult situation by rising prices.
Ali Izzat, who has a large family, said he thought prices had become disproportionate to his income. And with the start of the school term approaching, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was focused on providing for his children’s’ education, not new Eid clothes.
Eid is generally an expensive time for families, with celebratory food, new clothes, gifts and the traditional charitable donation eating into the normal household budget.
This busy season has been good for some traders, however. One street vendor who sells schools supplies said he had been quite busy, especially in the run-up to the new school year. In his opinion, competition between traders was keeping stationery prices down.
And Raed Abu Seer, a candy seller, said: “The Eid seaons increases the public’s purchase of sweets, because it is a tradition in Jordanian society.” He was stocking up on cakes and pastries, in addition to the candies he usually carries, because of their popularity in this festive season.