Saturday, 21 October 2017

Cutting back on luxuries

By Tereza Nosálková, Zuzana Drahovzalová |
Hospodářské noviny |
9 March 2009

Golf is one of the luxuries Czechs are giving up. (ČTK)

Czechs have become used to luxury, now they are forced to give it up. (ČTK)Czechs have become used to luxury, now they are forced to give it up. (ČTK)
Cable TV instead of theatre, good old spreadalbe cheese instead of parmesan and running in the park instead of golf greens.

The crisis has been changing the lives of Czechs. They learnt to spend more and even those not belonging to the "upper ten-thousand" were getting a taste of a luxurious lifestyle during the times of a booming economy. As the crisis creeps in, Czechs are lowering their demands when it comes hobbies, cultural events and food, which has started to shift from the "necessity" category to that of "lifestyle". Experts agree these expenses are usually the first to be dispensed with.

And that is why even the artists need to learn economic terminology. Czech theatres are planning their own "crisis packages".

Theatres taking crisis into account

In Prague's "intellectual" Theatre Na Zábradlí they came up with a campaign called "Nine anti-crisis measures". The aim is simple: to remind people that they should not deny themselves the pleasure of going to the theatre and that they can still afford a ticket even with a smaller budget.

"We noticed that people are weighing each crown. Sales fell by 15%. People are asking for discounts," said Doubravka Svobodová, the theatre's director. The National Theatre also plans to focus on marketing.

Book publishers are another group that might worry about economic crisis.

"February revenues are always miserable, but they were even worse this year. It might be a fluctuation that will return to normal, but we cannot say for sure at the moment. More expensive books, like encyclopaedias around CZK 1,000 are selling poorly. But fiction priced around CZK 200-300 continues to sell well," said Jindřich Jůzl from the publishing house Odeon.

"We have not changed the editorial profile of our small publishing house due to the crisis whose scope and intensity has been described on hundreds of pages," said Joachim Dvořák from Labyrint.

Members of the middle-class, who enjoyed peeking into the world of the upper class before tend to stay on their own turf today. "The first area where people start saving is hobbies and luxury goods," financial analyst Aleš Michl said. He supports his words by numbers from the last recession in 2001 when the sales of luxury goods' shops fell by one third while sales of those offering basic consumer things fell only by 5%.

No luxury for Czechs

The majority of departments observe a similar trend: Travel agents have difficulty selling exotic stays, HN has recently reported that luxurious restaurants in the Czech Republic are also having troubles – lobsters are replaced by south Bohemian carp and even restaurants with French names are offering lunch menus for accessible prices.

Czechs have become used to luxury, now they are forced to give it up. (ČTK)Czechs have become used to luxury, now they are forced to give it up. (ČTK)

Owner of a Letná shop offering luxurious cheeses Cheesy in Prague, Ivo Zenker, said he is planning to look for good quality but cheaper cheeses in the future.

Identical trend follows physical activities of the Czechs. Golf, symbol of luxurious sports has become popular even among people with middle-level salaries. People from the golf side are worried they might lose the enthusiastic Czech golfers.

We are getting ready for the crisis. We amended our prices, we are planning various packages and also want to extend our marketing abroad – so far we have only focused on the Czech Republic," said Veronika May from Golf Club Karlštejn.

On the other hand, fitness clubs offering better-priced "body torture", have not yet been affected by the crisis. "We have not recorded drop in number of clients. People might have more time. According to our research from abroad, fitness belongs among the 10 things people do not want to give up during the crisis," said Tomáš Krmíček from Star Trac Health Club Brno.


Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.