By Andria Kades
STORES were bustling yet again on Christmas Eve as hoards of people pushed and nudged to get ahead and buy their presents, left – as traditions go – to the last minute, even though shopping seemed somewhat subdued.
With the sounds of “jingle bells” blasting from shop speakers and musicians playing Christmas melodies in the streets, it was a sunny and buzzy disposition all day.
People were loading their shopping carts with meat for souvla and turkey – both seeming to have equal prominence – bottles of wine, beer, veggies, rice, chocolates and anything else they could cram into their cars.
Store assistants, plastered with a smile on their face yet on the brink of exhaustion as the day wore on, were running up and down to satisfy all the customers who then queued up in lines that stretched the length of the shop itself.
Members of the public out and about yesterday, may have been in a buying mood, nevertheless they were holding on to their purses quite tightly largely attributed to several factors, including no 13th salary.
According to a University of Nicosia survey, 30 per cent of the 500 people questioned around Cyprus will not get the extra salary this month. Although 68 per cent said they would, the remaining two per cent was still unsure whether they would receive another pay cheque.
“I’m buying very few presents just for my godchildren. We won’t have many things for our Christmas dinner either,” Andria Mavrommati said.
Of those receiving the extra income, 42 per cent said it would go towards repaying debt, rent and student fees, while 40 per cent would be buying Christmas gifts.
Some 24 per cent said they would spend it on necessary items, 13 per cent would be saving it, while seven per cent said it would go towards holidays, furniture or a new car.
Additionally, people aren’t as keen on spending when they know in only a few days, sales will kick in and three digit items will be slashed to more appealing prices.
“I don’t think it’s necessary for me to buy things now, they’ll be on sale right after Christmas,” Myroulla Andreou told the Cyprus Mail.
Although she strolled around Nicosia’s main shopping street, Ledras, she said she was just keeping an eye out on things she liked that she might go back and buy when prices are slashed.
“These aren’t times to be spending lots of money.”
University student Maria Christou said, “the truth is, generally we’re more reserved.
We try to cut our expenses as much as we can, we look at the prices. We try to hold on to every cent.
“There’s a crisis, less jobs, our parents don’t work as much and we as students depend more on our parents. So, it’s logical we want to help them and not spend that much money. We prefer the sales because it’s more beneficial to us.”
Christou said her family would only be buying the absolute necessities such as food and maybe some clothes, while another shopper, Marcos Neophytou said, “for the past three years, I would say I’m spending less.”
The UNic survey also revealed that 64 per cent of people said they cut back on the number of presents they bought this year.
Others, however, were obligingly punching in their credit card PINs everywhere they went or handing over their cash to buy items to fill the Christmas table, the right outfit to wear on the celebratory occasion and last minute presents.
“You don’t wait (for sales); Christmas is Christmas, you give the presents on Christmas day. You buy something for everyone, a piece of clothing, but the prices are the same. In January they fall, but who waits for January to buy their presents, no one,” said Nicoletta Stylianou.
“The prices are the same; they haven’t changed, but we were saving for this period because we knew Christmas was approaching and we had to spend. But I’m not holding back this Christmas; there’s presents for everyone, kids and adults.”
Exiting shops weighed down with food and gifts, there was a mad scramble as everyone rushed to get everything they needed before the 6pm closing time applied to all stores.
According to the university survey, 29 per cent reported they would have a more simple Christmas dinner compared to previous years.
“It will be the traditional things, basic stuff, not a huge variety,” said Evagoras Constantinou.
Of the 500 people surveyed, 85 per cent said they would be buying the absolutely necessary items during the Christmas period, while 15 per cent responded they would be indulging themselves a little bit more.
A more emerging trend is a keener eye in comparing figures across different shops and supermarkets.
“Yes, that’s true. Before I used to just go to one place and buy everything I needed, at most maybe at two supermarkets. But now I look carefully at the brochures and I see where everything I need is cheaper. Maybe I go to three of four supermarkets,” said Andreas Sophocleous.
Indeed, his comments were not only reiterated by several people found scurrying through the sliding doors of various stores but by the UNic survey which found 82 per cent of the sample were chasing up Christmas offers and only 18 per cent didn’t really pay that much attention to detail.
Despite whatever hesitations some people face when it comes to spending, one man on Ledra street wanted to send his own message for the island.
“Health, happiness and love to everyone!” he shouted out. “A happy new year for every single person.”