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Eid clothes’ shopping a struggle in Kuwait with increasing prices

By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: With Eid Al-Adha approaching and the travel season in its prime, the Kuwaiti market has witnessed a significant increase in the prices of clothing and other products amid great demand from buyers. Some sellers said the price hikes are due to a rise in shipping costs and shop rentals, as well as wages.

Margaret Gitonga told Kuwait Times prices are not like before the pandemic. “Prices are higher, in addition to a lack of products and clothes in the market, while offers and sales are fewer than before. I can handle the current rise in prices despite the pressure on me. Clothes sellers, especially of womenswear, know we will keep buying, and this encourages them to keep the high prices,” she said. Gitonga believes the reason for the price hikes is a result of the closure of many businesses around the world during the pandemic, which affected the global economic situation and pushed clothes retailers to hike their prices.

Buyers told Kuwait Times prices of clothes in mid-range stores have witnessed a steep hike, and the prices do not match the quality of the fabric of clothes in the market, as the price of a shirt that was KD 15 recently went up to KD 25. A pair of women’s pants that cost KD 5 has increased to KD 12. Ahmad Jamal said that despite clothing stores offering discounts, prices are still very high compared to the quality of the items. “One mid-range store offered discounts of 70 percent, but their prices after the discount still need more discount!” he exclaimed.

Up by 40 percent

“I had to up my budget for family expenses on clothing by about 30 to 40 percent to cover their needs. The high prices of clothes do not go with fixed incomes,” he added. Ahmad said he is not sure of the actual reasons for the recent rise in prices, but believes it is related to a rise in the cost of raw materials. “Nowadays they link everything to the war in Ukraine to justify increasing prices.”

Rosse de Guia told Kuwait Times clothing prices have increased around by 10 percent, stressing prices in clothing stores remain high despite the discounts. Rosse said stores are trying to recover from the closures that hit them during the pandemic by increasing prices. “Till now, the rise in prices is acceptable, but I hope they will not get higher in the near future,” she said.

Lifans George believes prices of clothes are not high compared to other products. “Clothing prices have increased by around 5 percent compared to other products like food, which has increased between 20 and 25 percent recently. But if we compare to the period before the pandemic, prices are higher due to inflation and the financial crash due to the pandemic and recently, the war in Ukraine,” she said. Due to these reasons, Lifans has cut her clothing budget by around 10 percent, expecting a further rise in clothing prices. But Lifans stressed that as long as purchasing power exists and people continue to buy, prices of clothes will keep going up.

US sanctions

Jason Mathew agreed prices will go up shortly in the clothing sector, considering US sanctions on Russia and the war in Ukraine as the main reasons for price hikes of all kinds of products worldwide. “For us middle-class people, these price hikes prevent us from saving money. If this continues, it will be very difficult for us to survive financially,” he said.

“Prices of clothes sold in popular markets have risen by more than 70 percent,” Um Aisha told Kuwait Times, arguing the reasons for raising prices are not justifiable. She now needs to spend more time and effort to find suitable clothes at reasonable prices for her daughters, adding she had doubled her budget for clothing.

Shima Al-Enezi pointed out that popular markets are no longer affordable for everyone after the huge increase in prices of clothes that are not of high quality. She stressed that the rise in prices is not justified, claiming the stores have stocks imported from before the pandemic bought at previous prices. She added she is not denying inflation and a global rise in prices due to the pandemic, but said clothing retailers are trying to recoup their losses by taking advantage of the situation and increasing prices. Enezi added clothing retailers have increased their profit margins dramatically, with discounted items still pricier than original prices, pointing out that prices have increased by more than 70 percent, especially for menswear.

Deyaa Saad said prices of clothes continue to rise every two months, which is unacceptable, especially since buyers know about materials and fabrics and these prices do not match their quality. Regarding the reasons for the current price hike, Saad agrees it is partly related to the global financial situation. However, clothing stores are taking advantage of the current situation, with discounts only offered on stock and surplus items, she said.

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