With the cost of living hard hit by the ongoing economic crisis, Tunisians are having to cut back on their spending during the holy month of Ramadan.
Tunisians would normally spend a bit more than usual during this period on food and delicacies to share with their families at Iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims at sunset to break their daily fast.
"Even the iftar table for a small family costs a lot compared to the wages we earn, even if we spend only spend 50-60 dinars. So, we buy less varied and cheaper products,” said Hamza el-Ayari, a buyer at the central market in Tunis.
With rising costs and sporadic shortages of many basic foodstuff, many people are cutting back.
“I wandered around the market for a long time, but I could only buy a few pickles. The prices are very high. Although it is Ramadan, people cannot satisfy all their needs,” said another buyer, Mohammad Shaaban.
Stay-at-home mother, Najla Zarruk, echoed a sentiment many others share.
"Prices should take into account the purchasing power of citizens, especially during Ramadan, the month of mercy and abundance. People should be more comfortable while fulfilling their religious obligations," she said.
Tough for all
But sellers said that faced with increased costs, they are finding it difficult to balance their own financial concerns with what people coming to buy from them can afford.
“The producer sells to the wholesaler and the wholesaler sells to us. Of course, everyone makes a profit. But prices have gone up more because of the high costs. So, unfortunately, market prices remain high despite our low profit margin,” said Mahirm, who sells fruit and vegetables at the market.
The consumption of more luxury products and sweets traditionally increases during Ramadan.
But with some basic foodstuffs like sugar, milk, flour, coffee, and oil scarce in recent months, even those who can afford them are struggling to find what they need to celebrate the holy month.