Demand for basic commodities in the second quarter of 2012 rose slightly compared to the same period of 2011 despite a surge in prices, a study by Beirut Traders Association and Fransabank showed Tuesday.
“The level of consumption of basic goods and commodities as compared to Q2 of 2011 continued to grow relatively, despite the computed inflation in prices,” the study said.
The report indicated that demand for fuel surged by 7.11 percent, tobacco by 6.97 percent, pharmaceuticals by 4.19 percent and bakeries and pastry products by 2.85 percent.
It added that the food sector witnessed a sharp deterioration with activity declining by 10.32 percent.
The study was part of an event to announce the launching of the retail price index for the second quarter of this year.
Fransabank chairman Adnan Kassar and president of Beirut Traders Association Nicolas Chammas explained the index to reporters at Fransabank’s Hamra headquarters.
The index showed that demand for luxury goods fell in the same reporting period, the report said.
“Luxury items and equipment witnessed a sharp decline,” the report said, adding that the demand for alcohol fell by 19.22 percent, furniture by 8.84 percent, clothing by 8.5 percent, communication and cellular phones by 7.06 percent and electronics by 5.26 percent.
“It’s worth noting that new car sales posted a solid increase, mainly in small and economic vehicles, with +9.63 percent performance,” the report showed.
“As a result, and by fixing our base index 100 in the fourth quarter of 2011, I announce to you that the BTA-Fransabank retail index is: 100.6 for the second quarter of 2012,” Chammas said.
“In other words, the retail trade activity has increased by a mere 0.5 percent since the fourth quarter of 2011.”
He added that based on this information, the overall economic activity during the second quarter of 2012 is expected to experience a slowdown, confirming the warnings the private sector has been making since the beginning of the year.
“We are aiming through our partnership with BTA to provide the Lebanese economy with a retail index that is indicative of the retail trade sector in Lebanon, that could be beneficial for the trade sector in general, as well as its constituent Beirut traders in particular,” Kassar said.
The speakers added that the retail price index should be considered a good reference.
They added that companies had been asked to provide their annual turnover for 2011 in terms of millions of U.S dollars.
The survey also asked participants to provide quarterly percent changes in their turnover for the first and second quarters of 2012.
The private sector and merchants have repeatedly complained that the political impasse in Lebanon and the turmoil in Syria have delivered a severe blow to the economy in general and to businesses in particular.