On Election Day, Israelis Vote for Shopping as Malls Report Heavy Traffic

Israel election 2021: Retailers reported massive traffic at stores around the country when they opened on Election Day

Hadar Kane
Hadar Kane
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Israeli shoppers in central Tel Aviv on Election Day.
Israeli shoppers in central Tel Aviv on Election Day.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Hadar Kane
Hadar Kane

Israelis get a day off work for Election Day, and shopping centers and retail outlets routinely report that elections are a record-breaking time for sales. Tuesday’s election, which came right before the Passover holiday and after months of lockdowns and economic limits imposed to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, was no different.

Retailers reported massive traffic at stores around the country when they opened Tuesday morning.

What Israel's last-minute polls say, and can we trust them? LISTEN to Election Overdose podcast

The parking lot was full at the Ofer Bilo Center Outlet by 9:30 A.M. “We started the day on the right foot,” said mall CEO Menachem Maudi. “People arrived at 8:30 A.M. to find parking. I think there must already be some 7,000-8,000 people at the mall and we’ve been open for only an hour. If it continues at this pace, we’ll see some 60,000-80,000 customers today, versus 25,000 on an average day.”

The mall prepared for the traffic with three times the usual cleaning staff and security guards, as well as staff members charged with enforcing coronavirus prevention restrictions. Stores were told to offer Election Day sales, says Maudi.

The mall hosts more than 160 stores, including outlet stores for brands including Adidas, Nike and Mango.

Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv also reported long lines in the morning. “We’re opening with a big celebration today,” said the mall’s marketing manager, Alex Kaplan. “The crowds came early and the mall was full by 9:30 A.M. Due to purple pass [coronavirus] restrictions, we can’t let as many people in, and we’re seeing lines outside some stores like Zara and American Eagle. We’re expecting higher revenues today than during the last election.”

Dizengoff Center also ramped up its cleaning and security staff to prepare, and stores offered special sales.

The Hutzot Hamifratz mall outside Haifa was full as well. “We have 2,500 parking spots, and they’re full,” said mall CEO Haim Horesh. “Based on our experience from the previous election, we’re preparing for twice the number of shoppers as on a usual day. Generally we see 15,000 shoppers, and today we expect at least 30,000,” he said.

While one day doesn’t mean the economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus is over, Horesh notes, “It’s bringing back people’s love of shopping, and reminding them that they enjoy it.”

The Mul Hayam Eilat and TLV malls also reported heavy traffic.

However, it isn’t clear Israelis were actually spending more than during the last election in March 2020. According to Automated Bank Services, which manages the national payment system for credit card companies, Israelis spent 316.5 million shekels between 9 A.M. and 12 P.M., 5.8% less than during the last election.

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