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Manama traders hit by protests

Manama, March 10, 2011

Traders in Manama have been forced to offer massive discounts in a desperate attempt to lure customers back into their shops - with some actually closing down as a result of ongoing protests.

Businesses have resorted to selling their products at half price, while others are running 'closing down' sales and 'two for the price of one' deals in a bid to attract shoppers.

It is not even the sale season, but merchants say ongoing protests at key locations in the capital are driving away trade.

'The situation is really bad for us traders who have to import goods and pay rent, yet there is no-one to buy our products,' said Manoj Acharya from Multifashion clothes shop, opposite Yateem Centre, in Manama.

'These protests since last month have affected the whole of Manama, with some shops like mine selling goods at throwaway prices.'

Some traders in the Manama suq say savvy expats are exploiting the current crisis - driving hard bargains with salesmen who they know need the cash.

'We are selling watches for as low as BD5,' said Jameel Mohammed, a salesman at Rashal Watch and Electronics, located a stone's throw away from the newly revamped Bab Al Bahrain area.

He added the shop would close down once the existing stock had been sold.

'Sony cassette recorders and emergency lights are sold for BD1,' he said.

'During this period, tourists used to flood the suq and we did good business.

'For the first time, we are giving away our items for as low as 500 fils.

'Customers, mainly expatriates, are smart and know our situation. They are demanding more discount on these prices.'

The Manama suq, normally a bustling hive of activity, was a ghost town yesterday morning.

Traders outnumbered shoppers when our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) visited the traditional commercial district between 10am and 11am.

Rather than bartering with passing shoppers, salesmen passed the time chatting to each other.

Moidoo Mohammed, 68, runs a small shop called The News, which sells newspapers, magazines and other items.

He has worked there for 28 years, but said his shop was now largely empty.

'There used to be crowd bustling in Manama, but now in the morning and evening there is no-one,' he told the GDN.

'People are not coming out because of these protests.

'My business is affected, but there are those shop owners who pay thousands of dinars in rent for their shops in malls and complexes.'

However, tailors in Manama's Block 304 are still smiling as they continue to do a booming business in flags.

The GDN reported two weeks ago that sales of the national flag had rocketed following the outbreak of protests - with both pro and anti-government demonstrators adopting the familiar red and white to further their cause.

That trend has continued, with one tailor saying he was selling more flags than thobes.

'Since these protests started everyone wants to buy a flag,' said Ahmed Hassan Abdulla, a Bahraini who owns a tailoring store in the heart of the capital.

'We have been selling Arabic thobes for men for over 20 years, but now my tailor is working extra hours to finish bulk orders of flags placed by different customers.

'My worker Abdul is very happy as 10 days ago he wanted a pay rise and I refused.

'Now both of us are making a fortune out of this protest.'

His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, said in a TV interview on Sunday that businesses suffering as a result of continued unrest should raise the issue through the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: retail | Shopping | Manama | traders | anti-government protests |

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