More food, less tourism: Pandemic affects Turkish consumer habits

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    Household expenses witnessed a new shift as the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a varied impact on the economy, changed consumer habits in Turkey, according to statistics. Last year, money spent on services like education and tourism decreased, while people spent more on appliances and food, according to Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data. Still, expenses continued increasing and exceeded TL 2.9 trillion ($396 billion), a 10% rise.

    Spending on education and tourism dropped 0.5%, while spending on refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and other durable goods rose 48%. People also spent more on food, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, medicine and hygiene products. Expenditures in those areas rose 18%.

    The Turkish economy managed to avoid a major impact from the pandemic, which stalled economies the world over and registered, a 1.8% growth. Still, prices for many goods skyrocketed at the height of the outbreak last year. The economy has grown 4.5% in the first quarter of 2020, while it shrank 10.3% in the second quarter. The subsequent quarters were better.

    Though people spent less on education and tourism, they still dominated the list of areas in which people spent the most, at TL 1.1 trillion. Schools were sporadically opened and closed for in-person education during the outbreak, while the tourism sector grappled with a crisis, although a normalization process in the summer of 2020 saw a rise in domestic tourism.

    The ongoing curfews, which were reintroduced in autumn 2020 after a summer break, led to more food expenses for people confined to their homes at night on weekdays and during 56-hour lockdowns on weekends. For food, beverages, cigarettes and hygiene products, people spent TL 1.1 trillion last year. They spent TL 217 billion on appliances and another TL 312 billion on clothes, shoes, kitchen utensils and toys.

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