A man shops at a supermarket in Ankara, Türkiye, on Nov. 3, 2022. (Photo by Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua)
Low-income families in Türkiye have not been the only ones to suffer from continuous price hikes for essential goods and the national currency's sharp depreciation; the middle class with more handsome salaries also is turning to belt-tightening decisions.
by Burak Akinci
ANKARA, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Turkish middle class may also be among the biggest losers of the country's challenging economic conditions, struggling to make ends meet amid high inflation, stagnant wages, and declining purchasing power.
Low-income families have not been the only ones to suffer from continuous price hikes for essential goods and the national currency's sharp depreciation; the middle class with more handsome salaries also is turning to belt-tightening decisions.
Shopping habits have changed, with fewer people daring to dine at a restaurant, even on weekend family outings, or buy cars or home appliances merely for an upgrade.
"There's no such thing left as the middle class anymore, wages have been eroded. Türkiye has turned into a country of minimum wage earners," Ilker Yagci, a 42-year-old banker told Xinhua at the popular Tunali Hilmi Avenue in the capital city of Ankara.
"We used to dine outside, but now we cannot do that anymore. We are afraid to go on holiday ... travel has become very expensive," Yagci said.
He noted the same salary that had once allowed him to splurge once or twice and still save some money two years ago now couldn't even cover a short trip out of the city.
A woman buys food in Ankara, Türkiye, Dec. 5, 2022. (Photo by Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua)
"As the Turkish economy is deeply affected by (strengthening) U.S. dollars and is import-dependent, costs have gone up and that has greatly impacted our living standards," he added.
The Turkish currency has steadily lost ground after a currency meltdown in 2018. Since the start of a monetary loosening policy in September 2021, the lira weakened more than 50 percent against the U.S. dollar.
Koksal Kutukalioglu, a formerly private company owner, explained to Xinhua how rising living costs have altered his way of life.
"I used to go to a restaurant once a week in the past, now I cannot go even once a month, it's impossible now. I used to go to cinemas or purchase books. Now, I could not buy a book for six months," Kutukalioglu said.
Türkiye's soaring inflation entered a slightly downward path in November as expected, with the government saying it represented a turning point. However, experts worry that the relief cannot be immediately felt among households for months to come.
"We have entered a downward trend in inflation, leaving the peak behind, unless there is an unexpected global development," Turkish Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati wrote on Twitter.
The Turkish Statistical Institute last week placed year-on-year inflation in November at 84.4 percent, a slight decline from 85.5 percent in October, which was the highest rate in 24 years.
A teller counts banknotes at an exchange office in Ankara, Türkiye, Nov. 24, 2022. (Photo by Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua)
"Slower inflation does not mean that the price increases that are eroding incomes will stop. As people enter the market to meet their basic needs, they will continue to face higher costs," Enver Erkan, chief economist at Istanbul's Tera brokerage house, told Xinhua.
The analyst added that a possible increase in demands on food, energy, or foreign exchange would pose an actual upward risk to inflation.
Meanwhile, consumers held on to a wary outlook of the economy as the country is heading for presidential and parliamentary elections planned for June.
"Whoever wins these elections, the country will need at least five years to return to some stability," Ilker Yagci said.
A man has a kebab meal at a restaurant in Ankara, Türkiye, on Oct. 27, 2022. (Photo by Mustafa Kaya/Xinhua)■