Georgians love to shop, and high-end retailers are paying attention. But economic data indicates that consumers’ expensive tastes could be leading many shoppers into a debt trap.
Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, is experiencing a quiet yet steady transformation in retailing. Traditionally, city residents have exhibited strong loyalties to their respective neighborhoods, and have tended to make their purchases in local, family-run shops. Of late, however, American-style shopping complexes have started appearing. And destination shopping appears to be rapidly gaining appeal among consumers.
At one new, trendy downtown Tbilisi shopping center, where higher-end brands such as Zara and Massimo Dutti are sold, 320 shoppers entered over the course of an hour on a recent Saturday afternoon, and 120 made purchases.
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.