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‘Hala February’ … seller present, customer absent

Expenses limited this year to fewer purchases

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 23: There’s something different about the National Days celebration this year! A simple inventory of the movement of commercial sales in the past few days clearly shows that citizens no longer revive the markets by buying goods and reserving party tickets as before.

These days are no longer reliable economically and touristically, reports Al-Rai daily. Expenses have been limited this year to fewer purchases than before, and children are even receiving more of the flag and national dress as gifts these days. At the same time, not all hotels and airlines offer special discounts on reservations with exceptional offers, as offers for this season are limited to some entities.

What has changed? “Hala February” … celebrations that mean a lot to Kuwaitis, because of the national meanings they bear and reminiscent of the independence of Kuwait, which will be celebrated on February 25, in addition to the celebration of liberation day from the Iraqi invasion on February 26.

These celebrations were accompanied by wide manifestations with great repercussions on the profits of companies, thanks to the increase in consumer spending rates during the period that usually witnesses many musical, heritage and staged concerts, as well as poetry evenings, with multiple and large marketing offers by companies and stores of different commercial activities.

However, this year’s celebrations come faded commercially, amid a marked slowdown in the movement of consumer demand, driven by the weak appetite of customers to expand their purchases like before. Consequently, water pistols that witnessed wide demand at this time of the year, despite all the warnings, lost its luster.

It is clear that commercial complexes and hotels do not wager a lot on the demand during this national holiday season, despite the continuation of advertisements for large sales during which some stores adopted a frantic race towards customers and their courtship with special discounts and offers.

The figures show a decline in the rate of purchases, as confirmed by a senior official in one of the major companies, indicating the decline in purchases seemed clear since the beginning of this year to record sales in most stores. He stressed a decrease in sales at varying rates reached some 10 percent, compared to the sales for the corresponding period of last year.

Despite the continued participation of banks and companies offering promotional advertisements that carry meaningful national messages in artistic form, many see regression in this aspect, limited to the major companies that still have margins for additional spending.

In this regard, some refer to eclipse of the national celebrations commercially to the economic situation of citizens, which in its stagnation resembles general economic activity.

Spending appetite is no longer motivated by expansion towards luxuries, so the focus becomes more on the essentials. Also, due to the same economic situation that started to stagnate some time ago, most of the famous stores were forced to offer continuous sales throughout the year, so they no longer have any incentives to add these days to attract the customers who used to classify national holidays as the best season for shopping.

On the other hand, there are people who question this opinion based on economic reports, the most recent of which was report of the National Bank of Kuwait published yesterday, which anticipated positive momentum supporting the growth of consumer spending to continue during the current year, supported by the increase in employment rates of Kuwaitis–in an environment of low interest rates.

However, the reality of the economic situation proves the weakness of the purchasing activities, which also affected the usual reservations for chalets that were attracting a large segment of families, and which preferred “Family Friday” to enjoy the special ceremonial aspect. It also affected national innovations such as entering the Guinness Book with the largest Kuwaiti flag that was done flying on a drone two years ago, in the presence of a crowd.

Any close follower of this year’s celebrations will notice a scarcity in organizing events and festivals, which have become limited to one or two celebrations of governorates, reflecting a decrease in the rate of government expenses on national celebrations that were a distinctive feature in the past.

This is what some consider a good reason for the weak purchasing activities, because these activities have a role in attracting a wide audience, including citizens, residents and tourists, particularly Gulf people.

For the solvent owners, it is clear that they prefer to preserve their tradition of celebrating their own way by traveling outside Kuwait in defiance of the Coronavirus threat. While the commercial activities in the past few days show a slowdown in the movement of sales, some hope that those coming from outside the country will revive sales of the national holidays’ period.

Statistics of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed the number of arrivals through Kuwait Airport during the period from February 20- 29 is up to 241,000, in addition to thousands who arrive by land from the Gulf compared to 203,000 who came to Kuwait by air during the period from February 21 to March 2, 2019.

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