COVID-19 deals blow to economic sectors in Egypt

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CAIRO – Sales in several economic sectors in Egypt, including textile, gold and real estates, have been negatively affected by the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.

“The production of winter clothes has dropped by 50 percent compared to the previous season, which impacted the sales of the ready-made clothes market,” said Mohamed Abdel-Salam, chairman of the Egyptian Chamber for textile Industries.

The textile sector has been affected to a great extent by the spread of the pandemic, Abdel-Salam told Xinhua, noting that people’s reluctance to leave their houses and willingness to stick to the precautionary measures is a major cause of the accumulation of goods in stores and warehouses.

“Consumers prefer to tour several stores before deciding their target, but it’s difficult now due to the pandemic,” Abdel-Salam explained, saying that the purchasing behavior and mood have changed, “worry and fear have prevented the consumers from buying products, especially unnecessary ones.”

The flows of sales declined by 70 percent in 2020, he added, noting that the textile exports are in continuous decline. Meanwhile, according to the ministry of trade and industry, the imports of clothes in 2020 dropped by 24 percent, which is valued at 414 million U.S. dollars compared to 544 million dollars in 2019.

In an attempt to revive the sales, Abdel-Rahman Bayoumy, an owner of clothes shop in Giza province, sought to offer some incentives to his customers.

“The market is in a state of stagnation, and the sales have dramatically declined,” 39-year-old Bayoumy said.

“I couldn’t even sell a piece in many days. I have to cut the number of workers so that I could afford their salaries,” he said.

Though the prices of the winter clothes dropped by 15 percent compared to the same period in 2020, the purchasing desire is very weak, he said, adding that he has offered a 40 percent discount on the price of some items.

The gold sector is facing the same predicament. Nady Naguib, secretary-general of the Egyptian Chamber for Gold Industries, said that the gold market in Egypt sees a decline in sales due to the virus.

“People prefer to buy necessary products. Those who buy the gold is just for urgent needs like wedding or engagement ceremonies,” he said.

The same situation goes with the real estate sector, according to Hussein Gomaa, chairman of the real estate development association.

“The real estate conditions in Egypt are currently in the best era due to the large number of the available residential units and the establishment of the new cities, but only few people dare to invest their money in buying houses now,” he said.

The unit sales reduced by 25 percent since November 2020 over concerns of the virus spread, he added.

Industrial insiders expect that the circumstances would improve in the coming months, as the vaccination campaign has been started in the country.

Egypt started vaccinating medical staff with China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 24. Minister of Health Hala Zayed said the priorities, in the vaccination campaign, are given to medical staff dealing with COVID-19 patients, followed by those dealing with other patients, the elderly, those with chronic or immunity diseases, and the rest of the citizens.

The country has so far recorded 167,013 COVID-19 cases, including 9,407 deaths.

Xinhua

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