Turkish retailers go online amid outbreak

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Consumers have increasingly moved shopping to online platforms in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak which is also forcing Turkey’s retailers to adapt to this new trend.

The country has introduced a series measures and restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of shopping malls and non-essential stores.

In the face of these challenging times, many companies have shifted their operations to their online stores and other retailer platforms.

Fashion retailers in Istanbul, the country’s commercial capital, have also followed suit, moving goods from their stores located in the closed shopping malls to warehouses to sell their products through online outlets. For instance, some 30 brands in Istanbul’s Marmara Park shopping center engaged in such an operation.

Sinan Öncel, the head of the United Brands Association of Turkey (BMD, noted that as of this week a number of retailers started to empty their stores.

“In fact, companies have been shifting their operations to online platforms for some time. But the increased demand on those outlets led to supply problems,” Öncel said.

“Retailers have started to remove goods from their brick-and-mortar stores and transfer them to warehouses to meet the increasing demand on online platforms, he said, adding that keeping the garments in a closed store or in unpacked packages is also harmful to the goods.

Öncel anticipates that retailers will continue with this practice for some more time.

He also noted that retailers are emptying the stores first in the shopping centers where they are having problems over rents.

“Many companies suspended operations as the public mobility declined or out of health concerns in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. We are still in the middle of this, it is not over yet,” Öncel said.

He underlined that companies still need to pay back their credit debts and the current situation is putting pressure on them.

“A large number of shopping centers have announced they would not demand rent from retailers, but uncertainties over rents still linger,” Öncel said.

The latest data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) regarding turnover in the retail sector showed that sales volume in the textile, clothing and shoe segment increased only 1 percent on a monthly basis in February.

Retail sales volume up 10.6 pct in February

Retail sales volume up 10.6 pct in February

The figures apparently did not capture the real extent of the anti-virus measures taken on the retail industry. Sales via mail and the internet, however, soared 48 percent on an annual basis and increased 6 percent from the previous month.

Meanwhile, as demand has picked up on online retail platforms, prices have also surged.

One such example is the price of bread makers, which has risen to 3,500 Turkish liras (around $520) from 1,700 liras only within a space of two weeks.

Similarly, game consoles, which are on high demand as people spend most of their time at home, are now sold at between 2,800 and 5,400 liras versus 3,800 and 2,300 liras two weeks ago.

Also, the price of treadmills has spiked from somewhere between 1,800 and 3,300 liras to 2,700 and 5,000 liras.

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