Turks can’t buy iPhones, other electronics after lira plunge

ISTANBUL (THE STAR) – Turks attempting to buy iPhones and other electronics received online error messages on Wednesday, including from Apple Inc’s local website, after a historic 15 per cent plunge in the lira the day before caused havoc for prices.

The currency slipped back towards its record low yesterday, driven by worries over broader fallout for the economy after President Tayyip Erdogan defended recent sharp rate cuts despite widespread criticism and calls for a reversal.

The lira has lost 43 per cent of its value this year and more than 22 per cent since the beginning of last week alone.

In turn, goods priced in the local currency have seen an effective sharp discount compared to prices elsewhere, with retailers struggling to keep up with price adjustments amid the market turmoil.

A Turkish spokesperson for Apple was not immediately available to comment.

Apple’s Turkish website stopped sales of most products, displaying a “Not currently available” message, a media query showed. The local prices of phones and computers were some 10 per cent below US prices following the sudden depreciation in the lira.

A sales representative at an Istanbul Apple store said people were thinking of electronics as an investment as much as items to use.

“It is pretty surreal with the economy and all, but people see it as a store of value and flock to stores. They know they’ll be able to sell it a year later for more than what they paid,” the person said, requesting anonymity.

Customers were flocking to upmarket import brands, primarily electronics and cosmetics, a Turkish e-commerce company official said.