Shopping Malls Report the 'Yassin Effect' Is Over

Following two lean years, Passover is once again bringing much hustle and bustle to the country's shopping centers, and the retail chains and malls are reporting increases in sales.

"After two years of relatively weak holidays because of events that occured close to the holiday periods ... there has been a 25 percent increase in sales at the group's malls," Pe'er Nadir, CEO of Azrieli Malls, said Wednesday.

About a week ago, senior industry executives voiced concern that this Passover season would also be weak in light of public fear of Hamas reprisals for the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. According to Nadir, however, "the Yassin effect" has passed. "There were two tough days and two more not so easy days; but from today, one can already sense the holiday," he added.

Things are expected to pick up even further by the weekend and through to the eve of the holiday, Nadir said. He also said the increased shopping activity ahead of the holiday was part of the economic recovery trend felt in the retail market over the past six months. That trend picked up in January-February, with the Azrieli Malls group recording a 10-15 percent increase in revenues.

The malls in the Africa-Israel group have also reported increased activity in recent days. Benny Cohen, CEO of Africa-Israel's malls division, said the Ramat Aviv Mall sees some 17,000-18,000 visitors on a regular day; in recent days, however, some 20,000 shoppers a day have been frequenting the shopping center. This number is expected to increase to 25,000 a day over the holiday period.

Anat Yagur-Talpazi, marketing manager at the Renanim Mall in Ra'anana, reported that ahead of Passover, the shopping center had seen a 30 percent increase in visitors and shoppers against the same period last year.