Turkey: Tourists flock to Chanel, Louis Vuitton stores as lira hits new low

Reuters
Turkey Published: Aug 13, 2018, 09:02 PM(IST)

Tourists, mainly from Arab countries queued outside shops. Photograph:( Reuters )

Tourists flocked to the shops in Turkey on Monday, their purchasing power buoyed by currency crisis, going on shopping sprees as the lira hit a new record low of 7.24 to the dollar on Monday.

People mainly from Arab countries swarmed the streets of Nisantasi, an upscale neighbourhood in Istanbul. Lines of tourists waiting to take advantage of the drop in the currency snaked outside Chanel and Louis Vuitton stores, barely moving.

"The prices are very cheap," said Fatima Ali from Kuwait, who was visiting the city with her two daughters. "We're buying clothes, we're buying makeup, we're buying brand names."

Ali stood outside a makeup store holding three small suitcases: like many of her fellow shoppers, she had brought out suitcases to fill with the increasingly cheaper clothes and products.

The Turkish lira has lost more than 40 percent against the dollar this year, largely over worries about President Tayyip Erdogan's influence over the economy, his repeated calls for lower interest rates, and worsening ties with the United States.

On Friday that relentless slide turned into a crash: the lira dropped as much as 18 percent, hitting US and European stocks as investors took fright over banks' exposure to Turkey.

Erdogan has also urged Turks to extend their hospitality to tourists as they brought dollars into the country at a critical time.

Casting the lira weakness a plot, Erdogan has repeatedly called on Turks to sell their dollars to shore up the lira.

"I'm sad that the lira has fallen, I'm sad for Turkey, but inshallah (God willing) there will be days in the future where it goes up and the situation gets better," said Ruba al-Jalal, from Saudi Arabia, standing outside of Gucci.

One employee at an upscale clothing store who declined to share his name said that this amount of shoppers was unusual even in high season, and believes it is because of the fall in currency.

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