Bombings in public spaces are fewer than before in Baghdad, but still not uncommon. However, the threat doesn’t seem to be stopping local residents from shopping at the city’s markets. Vendors at these retail meccas are staying open later and stocking more goods in their market stalls than before. The city’s central market district could be considered “bustling” for the first time in a long time.
Just how much has the situation improved? It’s hard to tell, because Iraq is still a largely cash based society so there is no way to track sales numbers. A man with a clothing stall in Souk al-Araby Market explained the reason behind the apparent surge in retail to a Reuters reporter: “Iraqis have got used to [the violence]. Till when are we supposed to stay at home? We Iraqis are used to war by now.” The proprietor of a nearby shoe stall mentioned the success he was having with higher priced footwear: “We didn’t sell Mizuno trainers last year. There was little demand as they were expensive, but more people have money and decent salaries.”
So while tourists won’t be rushing to book a shopping junket to Baghdad anytime soon, there is plenty of evidence that things are looking up.