Affected by rumors of a financial rescue and fears of a slowdown in 2019, the Quito merchants receive Christmas with the fear of a “Grinch” that will turn off their main income season of the year.
Although some establishments adorned their shop windows for two months, there are many traders who claim to be affected by the depressed situation of the economy and commercial competition, which comes, like that green monster of the film, to cheat the party.
The reality contrasts with the statistics of the Chamber of Commerce of Quito that clearly indicate that this year there will be a growth in sales, even in the face of the Christmas period.
“For now we see growth. We expect this December between 7 and 10 percent more sales compared to the previous December, “said Luis Naranjo Efe, head of Economic Analysis of the Chamber of Commerce of the capital.
He explained that since 2014, the year of maximum growth due to the price of oil,there was a fall from which the Ecuadorian market only recovered in 2017, amomentum that continues to be felt.
Half waythrough last year the government lowered the VAT by two percentage points and eliminated customs safeguards, which gave the economy a boost.
“Black Friday also came in strongly”, recalls this economist when pointing to achange in consumer habits, since last year Ecuadorians bought more in November(+ 14%) than in December (+ 9%).
In that sense, it may be that this 2018 will produce a similar phenomenon, and that many have bought part of their gifts at the end of November.
“There are Christmas purchases on Black Friday, but it is impossible to know the percentage,” assured Efe Gabriel Juncal, public relations of the ETA Fashion chain, one of the main fashion companies in the country for the whole family and home.
Although there are still no statistical data to indicate the trend this Christmas, the real push is expected from Monday, once the festivities of the founding of the city of Quito are over.
On a national level, the economy has been weighed down by rumors that Ecuador could ask for a financial bailout to deal with its bulging debt, after a year in which the growth indicators have been reduced by the reduction in the price of oil, its main export product.
In this context, Cecilia Vela, 59, who has a small Christmas stand in the popular Parque de la Carolina, expresses her concern for the competition of the Chinese industry.
“The prices that these stores (Chinese) offer are low,” she complains before clarifying that it is because the products “are not of good quality”.
With four decades in the park, Cecilia opens her little Christmas shop at nine inthe morning and closes, without much success, at nine o’clock at night.
Sheat tributes the scarce sale of these days to that, two years ago, the Municipality changed the location of the posts due to the construction of the Quito metro.
Large posters of offers of up to 50%, and even “liquidation”, have proliferated for weeks in many of the shops, although no one really knows if they are placed to convince the buyer to enter.
“It’s a way to attract the buyer, probably they have left since the last Black Friday,” says Paul Torres sarcastically as he wanders through the Iñaquito Shopping Center.
His family bought a good part of the Christmas gifts that weekend at the end of November, “when prices were really much cheaper”.
One of the peculiarities of these dates is the introduction of payment formulas of up to 18 months, in some cases even with arrears of four others.
Clothing,technology and toys are the preferred products for these holidays by the Ecuadorian buyer, who does not rule out that in 2019 he has to re-tighten his belt.
While waiting for the results on the direction of the market, Naranjo predicts that the deceleration could be felt next year, because the adjustments and cuts approved by the Government will come into effect. (I)