File - People shop at the Beirut Souks, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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Retail sales dropped 7.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period last year, according to the BTA-Fransabank Retail Index, which declined 14.40 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2013 .The decline in sales was attributed to lower consumer confidence, higher unemployment and declining tourism due to political and social instability despite "relatively receding security hazards" amid "the continued crisis in neighboring Syria," the report said.Restaurants and snacks witnessed a 10 percent decline in sales as the unemployment rate rose to 20 percent amid a wider increase in competition from the influx of Syrian refugees, the report said.
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