Since March 2022, Egyptians have been witnessing the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war and the post-covid economy recovery immensely. With rising prices, unavailability of products, and lack of imported goods, many began to seek alternatives to products they were once used to.
In March 2022, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) devalued the Egyptian pound by 14 percent in response to the global economic downfalls caused by the war. Later in October of the same year, the Egyptian pound slid by another 14 percent, against the United States dollar, reaching EGP 22.8 against USD 1.
These devaluations directly affected the prices of goods and services in Egypt. As a result, many Egyptians began to look for alternatives to imported products and substitutes to expensive items that they are used to buying. From essential products like dairy and poultry, to luxury goods like pet food, skincare, and clothing, Egyptians are now forced to prioritize their shopping lists in order to sustain the same living standards for themselves and their families.
Egyptian Streets spoke to some of its readers about products that they have stopped buying since the overpricing in Egyptian markets.
Toka Essam, 28, Financial Officer
“I stopped frying. I bought a small air fryer that does not excessively consume electricity, and now the oil bottle stays with me for more than one month. I changed the type of pasta I used to buy, from Italiano to Queen, because it’s much cheaper and gives me the same result. I used to buy lots of imported sauces, now I only buy the essential ones, like ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard.
When I first got married, less than a year ago, we used to buy cheese for almost EGP 1,000 (USD 41), now we look for offers on different types of cheese, turkey, or pastrami, and we only buy one or two types per month.
If we buy a burger pack this month, we buy a sausage pack next month, or chicken strips, but we don’t buy more than one type of fried packet in the same month. I also stopped buying french fries packs, I buy potatoes, cut them and fry them because this is much cheaper and even healthier.”
Nourhan Amer, 24, Logistics Specialist
“Instead of buying La Roche-Posay moisturizer, I bought Sebaclar Hayah Hydra for EGP 150. Instead of buying Red Bull, I bought Volt:, it’s a great energy drink and it’s only for EGP 6. Instead of buying Starbucks ice coffee, I replaced it with another brand that makes iced coffee with multiple flavors for only EGP 15.
I also replaced Victoria’s Secret body mists with a local brand called Memwa, it’s long-lasting and only for EGP 70.”
Paula Hosney, 35, Planning Deputy Manager
“I can never stop buying things that I know my children want, whether eggs, milk, chocolate, ice cream, school bus registration, and many other things. But my priorities changed.
I don’t take them to training, like football and swimming etc., often, although they are priorities, in my opinion. We also stopped going out frequently. But I did not stop buying any necessities at home, or anything that my children want. If my children need them, I will buy them anyway regardless of overpricing.”
Mohamed Yehia, 23, Engineer
“I only buy thrift clothes now from El-wekala or I buy my own fabrics and materials and work them out at tailor shops.”
Acil Mostafa, 23, Marketeer
“I stopped daily trips to the supermarket. Now I only go if I really need to. I did not replace anything with cheaper substitutes, but the amount and the frequency of buying decreased a lot. I also cut most soft drinks, I used to drink twice a day.”
Islam Gaber, 33, IT Coordinator
“I started buying Tide for laundry instead of Ariel because it’s cheaper and gives the same results. I eat ‘aish baladi instead of ‘aish feeno, and I make my coffee at home instead of buying it. I walk more instead of driving or using public transport.
I also stopped buying Almarai. Now I buy Bekhero milk because it’s a bit cheaper. I also stopped switching on the AC while I’m sleeping and this made a huge difference in my electricity bills.”
Hanin Tantawy, 23, Social Worker
“I stopped ordering food and coffee at work, and started making my own.”
Omar Selim, 25, Dentist
“I used to eat out almost every day or five days a week, but now I switched. I eat at home everyday and eat out twice or three times a week. I also decreased how frequently I used to smoke to two to three cigarettes per day, instead of five to six.
I don’t buy snacks from the supermarket as much as I used to, and I use the car much less now to reduce petrol consumption. I also used to go to the ahwa (local coffee shop) almost four times every week, now I go once or twice, and sometimes I don’t go because I feel like it isn’t worth it.”
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