Istanbul’s textile centres, primarily the Laleli, Osmanbey and Merter districts, expect up to a 40 per cent decline in overall trade volume this year as businesses take time to normalise after the COVID-19-induced shutdown. The number of closed businesses in Laleli has reportedly increased after June 1, when the country started to reopen its economy.
Nearly 20,000 tradesmen have stores in these commercial centres, which are among the most affected by the pandemic.
According to Giyaseddin Eyyüpkoca, chairman of the Laleli Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (LASIAD), which represents some 2,500 tradesmen in Laleli, the situation in the business district is much better now and the traders have reached 50 per cent of the pre-pandemic trade levels.
For the last three weeks, they have been working as before, Eyyüpkoca said.
Full normalisation also depends on developments in countries like Romania, Poland, Serbia and Russia, which are among their important commercial partners. The traders had worked hard for the summer season, but all those products remain unsold and they are trying to sell that stock at 50 per cent discount.
Eyyüpkoca said the number of vacant shops has increased by 30-40 per cent in the district and the traders need financing support for the upcoming period without which the number of closed businesses will increase more.
In Osmanbey district, a textile hub home to more luxurious brands, about 2,500 tradesmen also resumed business on June 1. Ridvan Kandag, chairman of the Osmanbey Business People Association (OTIAD) that represents some 800 businesses operating in the district, said about 90 per cent of the production carried out in the region is exported to 148 countries, while Osmanbey holds a 7 per cent share in Turkey’s garment exports.
According to an OTIAD study, which discussed the effects of the coronavirus on the region with the participation of more than 300 companies in April, 86 per cent of the companies experienced a cent per cent fall in their production and sales and faced non-refundable cheque problems in their collection for a period of 30 days.
Around 96 per cent said they did not lay off their employees, while nearly 60 per cent said they are looking to hire new employees for online sales.