September 30, 2013

Calendar, Economy Affect Holiday Sales in US and Israel

NEW  YORK — It was by all accounts a strange holiday season, primarily because Rosh Hashanah and the holidays fell so early this year. A Miami businessman told Kosher Today that business was off by as much as 30% as more people either stayed home or opted for different destinations. He explained that with extreme heat and humidity in the South and good weather up North, Miami was for many a non-destination this year. According to Ha’aretz, “Israelis vacationed overseas in droves, despite higher prices for hotels and airfare, while back home people are pinching pennies, window-shopping at malls and refraining from buying.” 

Israeli hotels were said to have done extremely well. The Israel Hotel Association said its members reported occupancy rates between 95% and 100% in Haifa. Hotels in Jerusalem and the Dead Sea were not far behind, with rates averaging 95%. Tiberias, Netanya and Eilat enjoyed 90% occupancy rates on average. Retail sales, say some kosher food industry sources here were up by nearly 15% in strong kosher markets and as has become customary in recent holiday periods far weaker in secondary markets. In Israel, retail sales were extremely weak. 

“This is the first time that the holidays weren’t felt at all [in the sales],” Zvika Levinson, CEO and co-owner of the fashion chain Daphna Levinson HDL, told Ha’aretz. “The national mood and the return back to school so close to the holidays have caused sales to be worse than in previous years. Sales during the holidays were even weaker than on regular days.” At Israel’s supermarket chains, business has also been slow. Sales figures have been rising in recent months but that’s due to higher prices not because shoppers are buying more, industry sources said.