Israelis were unusually busy Election Day this week: They not only voted in unusually high numbers, they also did a massive amount of shopping.
Aided by the fact that Election Day was also a legal holiday, Israelis charged 1.135 billion shekels ($320 million) on Tuesday, according to the credit card processing company Shva. That was a 34.1% increase in shekel terms from the previous election in April and a 12.9% increase in the number of credit card transactions, it said.
Meanwhile, the voter turnout on Tuesday reached 69.4%, a full percentage point higher than in the April 9 election, even though analysts had expected voter fatigue from the back-to-back elections would keep many of them home the second time around.
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All told, Israelis conducted 4.9 million credit card purchases that day, most of them between the hours of 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. That worked out to about 6,600 on average per minutes and, at peak hours, to more than 8,000.
During the four peak hours, Israelis made 1.58 million credit card purchases totaling 349 million shekels, 98.7 million of that spent between noon at 1 P.M.
Reports from shopping mall managers and restaurant owners confirmed the phenomenon. Big Shopping Centers, one of Israel’s biggest mall operators, said turnover at stores Election Day were three or even four times the usual for a weekday.
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Retail sources said the reason for the shopping surge was that this week’s Election day came just two weeks before the High Holidays. Israel has never held elections in September. The April elections preceded Passover, but retailers said the shopping before that holiday is traditionally lower because the High Holidays of involve more days of celebrations. In recent years a traditional has grown for people to exchange gifts and retailers now offer pre-holiday sales to encourage them.