(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Clothing retailers are pinning hopes on the summer season when an anticipated influx of Arab tourists may bump up demand for garment items.
Some store owners, interviewed by The Jordan Times Sunday, described demand for clothes as weak attributing the dull market to weary Jordanians shattered in their battle with rising living costs.
"Consumers are struggling to get on top of their bills and are not worried about upgrading their wardrobes," Garment Traders Association President Salah Hmeidan said, complaining that the sector has seen a sluggish first quarter.
He indicated that during the first quarter of the year, sales dropped by almost 50 per cent when compared with the same period of 2011.
Despite discounts offered at fashion stores, Hmeidan remarked that demand remained weak.
Besides the difficult living conditions many people are passing through, the association's president mentioned the tax system which raised the cost of imported garments as another main reason that negatively affected the industry.
But Sobhi Abul Wafa, an owner of a clothing shop for women in the capital's neighbourhood of Jabal Hussein, was optimistic that demand will increase in summer as he expected Jordan to be the preferred destination for Arab tourists in light of ongoing instability in the region.
"The turmoil in neighbouring Syria will push many Arabs to spend their holidays in stable Jordan," he said, noting that the Kingdom has been the preferred place for thousands of Libyans, who are seeking medical treatment here.
Mohammad Salwar, another store owner from Amman, blamed the difficult economic conditions Jordanians face for the weak demand on apparel products.
But he also echoed the same hopes of Abul Wafa that the June-September period will enable retailers record a healthier performance.
According to Mohammad Abu Obeid, owner of a clothing store in Irbid, the contraction in sales is unprecedented so far this year, attributing the decline of consumers' spending on clothes to rising living expenses.
Asked if he was optimistic about the summer season, he expressed hope that the upcoming summer period will be better noting that every year merchants put their hopes on summer as large numbers of Jordanian expatriates return home for holidays and that tourists' inflow increases.
Among the reasons for the decline in demand for clothing items, Amman-based merchant, Abul Wafa, mentioned that shoppers currently prefer to purchase their clothes from shopping centres.
Sales of shops also went down because of unauthorised street vendors in Jabal Hussein, once considered one of the busiest districts in Amman, he explained, stressing that shoppers are keeping away from the area to avoid being harassed by the vendors.
Hala Adnan, an employee at private company, told The Jordan Times that she opts to purchase her clothing needs from a large shopping centre because real discounts are usually offered in such stores.
"I also enjoy going to shopping centres than just walking around in the city's streets," she added.
Ibrahim Fawaz, a manager of a clothing store in an Amman shopping centre, noted that sales so far this year are encouraging, although the international brands offered in the shop are not cheap.
Indicating that the store offers discounts all over the year, Fawaz agreed that the summer season is a peak period for fashion stores due to the return of expatriates and the influx of tourists from Arab countries.