- Title: Christmas in Lebanon not so merry as economic crisis bites
- Date: 22nd December 2019
- Summary: BEIRUT, LEBANON (DECEMBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) VAIROUS OF DOWNTOWN BEIRUT COMMERCIAL DISTRICT AND CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS READING (English): "Peace, Love, Hope" / PEOPLE WALKING VARIOUS OF LIGHTS ON CHRISTMAS TREE SIGN READING (English): "Beirut" BEIRUT, LEBANON (DECEMBER 19, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) OWNER OF CLOTHING STORE, RAFI TABAKIAN, SAYING: ''Seventy percent of our profits for all the year we used to make during this month, December. Now we see customers entering, asking for the price, and then leaving.'' SHOPS AND TRAFFIC IN BURJ HAMMOUD DISTRICT VARIOUS OF UNLIT CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS DURING DAYTIME VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING ON PAVEMENTS LOOKING AT SHOP DISPLAYS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) OWNER OF CLOTHING STORE, RAFI TABAKIAN, SAYING: ''Some people are not able to buy, some others have problems, God help them really. For me personally I am doing my best not to make them (customers) feel like they are less, I prefer to sell them on credit rather than not. I am not supposed to make my children go through the same pain that we went through (when we were children ourselves) but this is what I have ended up doing.'' VARIOUS OF SHOPS JDEIDEH, LEBANON (DECEMBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEAD OF JDEIDEH MUNICIPALITY, RAYMOND ATIEH, SAYING: ''The holidays are coming, but they're coming with a pinch. There is anger, people are angry on the streets, people are angry because of the shortages of earning a living. People are angry because they are getting fired, people are out on the streets, some are being paid half-salaries, or not working. The social situation is so bad that you have to think twice about spending money on aesthetics.'' VARIOUS OF UNLIT CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS TRAFFIC VARIOUS OF TRAFFIC / UNLIT CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ADMA, LEBANON (DECEMBER 19, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PRIEST IN TOWN OF ADMA IN MOUNT LEBANON REGION, CHARBEL DACCACHE, SAYING: ''It's not the end of days. Some days are harsh, others are better. People should remain vigilant during the harsh days, and never give up. We don't want to lose hope. We should not spend the holidays in sadness. This is a celebration of happiness.'' CHURCH EXTERIOR CHURCH BELL TOWER CHURCH ENTRANCE TRAFFIC INTERSECTION WITH CHRISTMAS TREE IN THE MIDDLE CHRISTMAS TREE VARIOUS OF HILLS AND RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS IN ADMA NEAR BEIRUT
- Embargoed: 5th January 2020 12:40
- Keywords: Christmas season in Lebanon Lebanon economy Lebanon's economic crisis Protests in Lebanon Unrest in Lebanon
- Location: BEIRUT, JDEIDEH AND ADMA, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, JDEIDEH AND ADMA, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001BB237TH
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Rafi Tabakian's clothing store in a Beirut suburb is usually buzzing with customers during the holiday season, but with Lebanon's economy in ruins, shoppers are in short supply.
The man who has been in the business for 30 years says that sales have dropped 80 percent in December even though he has cut his prices.
"Now we see customers entering, asking for the price, and then leaving," Tabakian, who produces and sells clothes in the densely populated, commercial Burj Hammoud neighbourhood of the capital, added.
Lebanon is suffering its worst economic crisis, rooted in decades of state corruption and waste, since the 1975-1990 civil war, leaving streets dimmer and shopping centres emptier, with many stores and restaurants void of customers.
The economic woes have sparked huge protests against the ruling elite, banks are imposing capital controls, pressure has piled on the pegged Lebanese pound, and a hard currency crunch has pushed importers to hike prices.
Hotel bookings, flights and events have plunged during what is usually a busy commercial season for Lebanon, which has the Arab world's biggest proportion of Christians.
Many from Lebanon's large diaspora normally return home to streets packed with cars and decked out with lights.
But Pierre Ashkar, the head of Lebanon's hotel association, said December bookings have plummeted from a usual 65-75 percent occupancy to 7-15 percent this year.
Some local councils have opted to either re-use old decorations or do without.
"The holidays are coming, but they're coming with a pinch. People are angry...People are getting fired, paid half-salaries, or not working," head of Jdeideh municipality, Raymond Atieh, said.
Charbel Daccache, a priest in Mount Lebanon's largely Christian town of Adma, said it was better to help feed the poor in tough times "than to decorate and throw glitter".
(Production: Alaa Kanaan, Imad Creidi, Ayat Basma)
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