Israelis Elect to Shop

Regardless of whether it takes quite a while to figure out who will be the next prime minster and who will join the coalition, the big winners of yesterday's Election Day were the malls, fashion chains, coffee shops and restaurants. The day off work, the ongoing sales and bad weather led many people to vote in favor of shopping, as hundreds of thousands flooded shopping centers all over the country, where they encountered a shortage of parking. Some stores were even forced to close their doors to the huge crowds.

The cold weather and rain forced families to take to the malls instead of going on outdoor trips or to parks.

"Twenty-five of us came, including five responsible adults," said Galit Roshihotsky, who was accompanying a large group of toddlers in Herzliya's Shivat Hakochavim Mall. "We took the children to vote in the morning and then came here. Later we will go to another mall," she said.

Eitan Goldman, the CEO of Dizengoff Center, estimated that 50,000 people visited his mall, twice the amount on a normal day - even though the mall did not organize any special activities for Election Day.

In Rishon Letzion's Hazahav mall, the number of visitors was up 15 percent from Election Day three years ago.

The stores in the Azrieli mall made 2.5 more sales than on a normal day -- "much better than we expected," said Pe'er Nadir, the mall's CEO.