Online shopping threatens Syria's outdoor markets(Read article summary)
Online food shopping made its debut in Syria this spring, already drawing 2,000 customers.
Sarah Birke/Special to the Christian Science Monitor
â€˘ A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
Up in Damascusâ€™s Souk Salihiyah, the streets bustle with shoppers buying fresh produce. But Syriaâ€™s souks (marketplaces) have a new competitor: This spring, online food shopping made its debut in the country, already drawing 2,000 customers.
Foodleco.com caters to all possible culinary needs. As well as delivering goods to the customerâ€™s doorstep, the site also offers delivery service from a range of restaurants.
The site â€“ along with a limited but growing number of supermarkets â€“ marks a break from traditional, daily shopping at the vegetable stalls and corner shops that dot nearly every street.
Impersonal online shopping and supermarket anonymity may not re-create the social fabric that is found in souks. But the new service caters to a growing workforce working longer hours. â€ś[Foodleco.com] saves a lot of time,â€ť says Shaza Salem, a website administrator. â€śAnd it stops me [from] buying lots of things I donâ€™t necessarily need.â€ť
Foodleco.com highlights the rapid changes in Syrian society in which US-style conveniences are taking over traditional ways of life â€“ but only for the upper classes. With only a very few households able to afford an Internet connection and credit cards, most of the population carries on in the souk as usual.