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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Fewer flags may flutter on cars and outside apartment buildings and the boom of fireworks may be quieter this 59th birthday of the founding of the State of Israel, but there will be no slowdown in the tradition of barbecuing on the holiday.
For the second consecutive year, the Manufacturers Association of Israel reported that sales of flags have fallen, this year dropping 5 to 7 percent to 330,000 on top of a 10% decline in 2006.
are expected to purchase only 330,000 flags, about 5-7% less than last year. Total sales of flags leading up to Independence Day was expected to reach NIS 4.8 million.
The slide in flag sales was attributed in large part to the fact that 20% of Israel's municipalities did not order any flags this year, while those that did ordered 5-10% less than in 2006, explained Adi Livna, chairman of the Association's Textile Union.
Hotels and guesthouses have not decreased their flag orders, however, the manufacturers noted, adding that municipalities in Judea and Samaria have increased their orders 10% from last year.
Fireworks have also experienced a drop-off in sales over the past two years, with this year's sales falling 25% from 2006, after that year saw a 15% drop from 2005's levels, according to a report from the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.
"The drop in sales stems from budget cutbacks in Israel's municipalities as well as the fact that kibbutzim, which in the past had purchased large quantities of fireworks, no longer use them as most of their members prefer to celebrate in bigger towns or cities," said Yoran Mor, chief executive officer of the fireworks company Zik Dinur.
Meat sales, on the other hand, have risen from last year, with the average Israeli expected to consume 14.3 kg of meat, as opposed to 13.3 kg last year, over the course of the country's unofficial "barbecue month," which begins immediately after the Seder and peaks on Independence Day, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. During the month, Israelis purchase 13 tons of meat, as opposed to just 8.3 tons during each month throughout the rest of the year, the ministry said.
Similarly, reported the FICC, sales of barbecue products have risen leading up to the holiday, led by the 185% increase in products such as grills, charcoal and lighter fluid in the week prior to Israel's birthday when compared to the other weeks of the year.