"I am passionate about smartphones and I used to replace my mobile every year upon the release of a new model but I am not doing so anymore because my employer has cut our salaries in the past year to be able to survive," said
Like many others, Merhi's shopping preferences have completely shifted to daily basic needs, especially with the increase in the cost of living in the past few years. "Smartphones have become a luxury for me rather than a necessity," he said.
Mobile phone shop owners interviewed by
"Sales have dropped by around 20 percent this year compared with 2013," said
He added that he was surprised to find sales were 50 percent lower this summer than they were in 2006, during the Israeli war on
"We had Lebanese customers back then but nowadays local and foreign demand has been reduced by half," he said.
He added that while Syrians bought a lot last year, he suspected they were focusing their spending on necessities rather than on luxury products. "I guess they are focusing more on basic needs because the crisis in
"But if we are to compare
Fakhreddine said the economic situation has even prompted merchants to avoid displaying a wide range of products in their shops.
"Retailers nowadays prefer to display only one item of each kind, so as to avoid stocking products and losing their money when prices go down upon the release of new models."
Fakhreddine's remarks were echoed by a sales representative at Class mobile retailer in Downtown, who said that sales have dropped remarkably compared to last year.
"As you can see, we do not have clients. I cannot say that we are not working but we are definitely not doing as well as we should have been," he said.
As for the smartphones that have witnessed a decent level of demand compared with the two best-selling iPhone and Samsung handsets in the past year, shop owners noticed a strong entry into the market by HTC products.
"We have been witnessing lately a good demand on HTC products compared with other items because it combines the good features of Samsung [phones] and iPhones," Darjany said.
"We expect HTC to witness as much demand as Samsung and iPhone in the coming two years because of the brand's great features and its great price range that could be affordable to anyone," he said, adding that the price of HTC smartphones ranges from
"HTC will take over the local market soon," said a salesperson at Hamdan Home Appliance in Jnah.
He said HTC has three to four product ranges that are compatible with all consumers.
"HTC does not have the same freezing problem that you can find in old Samsung smartphones."
Tabsh believes that HTC was and is still present, and that its phones have design and quality standards that are even better than Samsung, but that HTC falls behind its rival when it comes to marketing.
"The latest HTC devices have been sold in
Tabsh added that demand is still high for the iPhone even though it lacks most of the options available on other brands.
"The demand on iPhone is mainly due to its friendly operating system, applications and games," he said, adding that Samsung smartphones are the best-selling android devices because they cater to all tastes.
However, Tabsh strongly believes that big spenders would invest in HTC if they could because of its phones' advanced features.
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