Al-Ahram Weekly Online   22 - 28 December 2011
Issue No. 1077
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Hand in hand

A campaign calling upon Egyptians to buy "Made in Egypt" products for a single day succeeds in attracting supporters for the long term, Nesma Nowar reports

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Like almost every Friday since the beginning of the year, many Egyptians took to the streets, this time not to take part in a million-man protest but to go shopping for Egyptian goods. They were responding to the "Buy Egyptian" campaign launched through media and social networks calling upon Egyptians, inside Egypt and abroad, to buy only Egyptian products for that single day. The campaign aimed at stimulating the Egyptian economy which has suffered as a result of the political upheaval since January.

Many shops offered discounts and promotional offers to buyers on a wide range of products including food and drinks, clothes, carpets and even airplane tickets in an attempt to support the campaign and attract buyers.

"I was surprised by the number of people pouring into the shop last Friday," said Amr Mustafa, a salesman at one of the commercial shops in the Mohandessin area in Cairo. He affirmed that there was an unusual demand as a result of the campaign as well as the discounts his shop has offered.

Mustafa Abdel-Malek, another salesman at one store for women's wear, said that although there was a good demand on Friday, it was not as expected. Abdel-Malek attributed this to the clashes that broke out again in central Cairo on Friday. He believes the events have overshadowed the campaign.

Indeed, the clashes have affected the campaign and might have prevented many people from going out, agrees Ahmed El-Wakil, head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce. However, he said the initial reports he received reveal there was a huge turnout on Friday. Sales in hypermarkets increased by 30 to 40 per cent last Friday compared to the same day the week before.

El-Wakil believes that despite the fact that the campaign could not achieve much in light of Egypt's critical economic situation, it definitely helped raising the spirits of producers after a long period of stagnation. "This boost affirmed that the Egyptian market is still fine and that the Egyptian consumer could adapt to buying Egyptian goods," he told Al-Ahram Weekly. According to El-Wakil, the total demand in the Egyptian market in October 2011 declined by 38 per cent compared to October 2010.

"I went to the supermarket on Friday and bought only Egyptian-made sweets for my kids," said Doaa Adel. She explained that although some non- Egyptian products may be of a better quality, she still bought Egyptian products. "We have done our part as consumers and bought Egyptian products," Adel told the Weekly. "It is now the turn of Egyptian producers and companies to offer us better quality goods," she added.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Khaled who went to one of the Egyptian brands for men's wear stated that he was astonished by the high-quality products stating he was glad that the campaign gave him the opportunity to explore Egyptian goods. He further stated that he could not park his car at one of Cairo's shopping centres due to the unprecedented turnout.

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