Despite the fact that no official boycott has been announces, ultra-Orthodox consumers have already begun to impose informal sanctions on the Shefa Shuk supermarket chain.
According to estimates provided by concerned advertisers and suppliers, the chain's eight stores catering to the ultra-Orthodox sector have already suffered a 50% drop in revenue.
The campaign against Shefa Shuk (loosely translated as 'market of plenty') began in mid-March after rabbis from the Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat took out an advertisement in ultra-Orthodox papers calling on readers to avoid any business transactions with the Dor Alon company following its refusal to close its chain of AM:PM convenience stores on Shabbat.
"The ultra-Orthodox retail chains have an annual turnover of over $1 billion," expands Meir Gal, deputy CEO of ultra-Orthodox advertising giant Gal-Oren BSD. "The monthly turnover for one branch in Bnei Brak alone reached almost $3 million this year and on Passover eve the proceeds stood at $56,000 an hour. You have to consider the timing here – the month between Purim and Passover is the most crucial for the retail market, especially the ultra-Orthodox one," he said.
Meanwhile the competition has already begun to take an interest in taking Shefa Shuk off Dor Alon CEO Dudi Weissman's hands.
"Talks may indeed be in the works. Though we would be thrilled to see DudiWeissman make the brave, reasonable and Jewish decision and close AM:PM on Shabbat – we would be willing to purchase the right Shefa Shuk branches if he does not ," said Rabbi Menachem Carmel of the Barkol chain, which operates 30 supermarkets aimed at the ultra-Orthodox community.
But Haim Shalom - who heads one of the largest supply firms for the sector, Ta'aman – discounted those reporting a 50% drop in revenue for the chain. Purim, he said, went ahead as usual and he expects the standard order for Passover.