* The pound is 35% weaker than a year ago despite the rebound
* The once thriving Southeast market has been hit hard
* Customers cut back on purchases as inflation rises
By Umit Ozdal
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, December 27 (Reuters) – Hazal Tunc and friends founded Turkey’s first women-only street market eight years ago to help victims of domestic violence and divorcees, and it has provided them with jobs and security – until now.
Like organizations and businesses across Turkey, the market has seen its activity contract dramatically following a currency crisis in which the pound lost as much as 48% of its value in the in the last two months only.
The market in the predominantly Kurdish town of Diyarbakir in the south-east of the country experienced vibrant trade in its early years, but has declined in the past two, especially in the past six months, as the pound crash caused prices to skyrocket and devastated household budgets.
âSales have completely stopped. In the past, customers would buy two kilos of carrots. Now they come to buy three carrots,â said Tunc, 46, a mother of three who helped found the fruit market, vegetables and crafts.
The pound crisis was sparked by pressure from President Tayyip Erdogan to cut interest rates despite a sharp rise in inflation and warnings from economists.
‘EVERYBODY GIVEN UP’
In happier days, as many as 256 women made a living selling their wares at the street market, but that number fell to 69.
âPeople’s purchasing power is almost completely gone – so is our selling power,â Tunc said. âEveryone gave up.
The pound rebounded sharply last week after the government unveiled a deposit protection plan, and the state backed a series of market interventions selling billions of dollars.
Tunc was not impressed.
âIf they (the government) could intervene, why did they wait three months, four months? she said. “A lot of people committed suicide, they got into debt. If (the government) could fix this, why didn’t they?”
A week ago, before the government moved, a dollar was worth 18 lire. On Monday, it was worth 11.4 lire, although down 35% from a year ago.
Economists say the lira remains vulnerable, and with it people’s living standards. Annual inflation is expected to climb to 30% next year from 21% last month, as import prices soar and retailers cover rising costs of goods, energy and labor. of work.
Vegetable seller Hanim Dogan said people now find it difficult to buy basic food items.
âIn the evening, bread costs 4 lire, and the next morning, it costs 7 lire. People are confused and do not know what to do. A person who used to buy 5 kilos of oranges now buys 1 or 2 kilos, âshe said. .
âThe financial situation has become very difficult. (Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; writing by Ece Toksabay; editing by Daren Butler and Gareth Jones)
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