THE credit crunch is hitting the property market in the Paphos region of Cyprus. Other businesses are also being affected including restaurants and hairdressers according to a report in today’s Cyprus Mail. It seems that the only ones seeing a boom are the charity shops.
Credit crunch: Paphos feels the squeeze
Businesses and charities in Paphos are already feeling the effects of a slowing economy, as people try to curtail spending habits.
Small businesses and charities seem to be the worst affected, as consumers manage their money with ever greater care. Paphos is feeling the brunt of the problem because of its dependence on the British expat market – particularly hit by the credit crunch.
For Monica Antoniades of Capital homes in Paphos, the global financial crisis “is definitely affecting us“. Capital homes were established in the UK more than 30 years ago, and have had offices in Cyprus for the past five years.
“The last three months have seen a massive reduction in the number of house purchases being completed. I would estimate we’re already down about 90 per cent compared with the same period last year,” she said.
“People are still eager to buy in Cyprus, but I think they’re exercising caution, and waiting for the situation to stabilise before taking the plunge.”
Antoniades added that rentals of apartments and houses were up though, “and I think this is because of people waiting to see the outcome, and also there’s an increase in younger families moving here from the UK. I think they’re coming out to Paphos and testing the ground first, before committing themselves to buying anything.
“I’m hoping things will improve,” she said. “There are still people who can’t afford to buy in the UK, and they’re moving out here. People are just taking a more sensible approach.”
The property market isn’t the only sector to suffer; food and drink outlets are also experiencing a drop.
Restaurateur Yiannis Solomou owns the popular Jade Palace Chinese Restaurant in Coral Bay and Porto Bello in Kato Paphos.
He told the Cyprus Mail, “Trade is down all over the world, so of course Cyprus is being affected. When the UK is down, we’re down because we’re so dependent on this market.
“I would estimate that in the last three months, our trade is down at least 30 per cent on the previous year, and guests are tending to spend less when they go out to eat.”
Solomou said repeat custom was still there, but visits were less frequent than when the financial market is buoyant.
“Cyprus is too expensive for the British market, and I think we need to lower our prices.
The government must do something to help. For example, airport taxes could be lowered. I haven’t raised my prices for two years. We have to make sure we give the best to help us survive this crisis.”
Beauty shops, spas, nail salons and hairdressers, are all noticing a fall in custom.
Mandy Maskell of Golden Girl hairdressers in Paphos said, “I’ve noticed a decrease in the number of people getting their hair done in the last three months. I would say it’s dropped by at least 15 per cent. Clients are still coming, but just not as regularly,” she added.
According to Maskell, it seems the group worst affected is the older generation, as they’re receiving a poor rate when they exchange sterling UK pensions for the euro.
“I hope we will be able to weather the storm, and I’m lucky to have a loyal client base. I’m aiming to keep the prices low and giving good service. The important thing in situations such as this is not to be greedy,” she said.
The only ones seeing a boom in business are charity shops.
Caroline Harman-Smith, the social event organiser for the Paphos Friends hospice charity, confirmed the trend: “We’ve just had our best month ever. In October, I believe our takings were around €7,000.When you consider the nominal sale price of each item, you realise that’s a lot of sales,” she said.
The charity has two shops, one in Chlorakas in Paphos, and a further one in Pissouri.
“We’ve had the shops for about two years, and takings are steadily rising. When there’s a credit crisis, people have less money to spend on clothes and household items, and many people turn to thrifty spending and recycling,” she confided.
But although shop takings may be up, Harman-Smith expressed concern over social fundraising events.
“I was organising a mid-summer ball, but we had to cancel it as we didn’t sell enough tickets. People just don’t have the money to spend on these occasions at present, and charities will suffer.
“I’m having to look at cheaper ways to raise money for the hospice, as the support is there, but people are tightening their belts.”
Bob Windsor, the deputy director of the Cyprus Samaritans agreed sales figures for their charity shop were healthy.
“October was a good month for sales in our charity shop in Paphos, as people are watching what they spend; they will try and find alternative sources to purchase clothes. We sell shirts for as little as €1, and I think we’ll see sales figures increase over the coming months,” he said.
By Bejay Browne
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008