Apple halts sales in Turkey as the lira crashes

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Image: Reuters/Dilara Senkaya
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Apple seems to have pressed pause on its Turkey operations as the country goes through one of its worst economic upheavals in history.

Since Tuesday (Nov. 23), Turkey’s online Apple store remains available but customers are unable to add products to their basket and check out. All they get are error messages. Quartz independently verified that online purchases were still not going through at the time of publishing.

What is happening with the Turkish lira?

The suspension came as the Turkish currency, the lira, nosedived 15% to hit a record low of 13.44 to the dollar. The plunge was triggered by president Tayyip Erdogan’s speech defending recent rate cuts, which have pushed inflation above 20%. Tuesday’s was the largest slide since the height of Turkey’s 2018 currency crisis, which tifled economic growth and kept inflation in the double digits for three years.

The volatile lira is the worst performing currency in the world, falling 45% this year. More than half of the damage has occurred in the last week alone. And if Erdogan stands firm with his economic policies, inflation could reach as high as 50%.

With the currency plummeting and inflation skyrocketing, goods priced in the local currency become heavily discounted. Updating prices in the middle of the market chaos is nearly impossible for all retailers, including Apple. The tech giant will likely resume sales once the exchange rate stabilizes. And when it does, Turks should expect higher prices.

What about Turkey’s physical Apple Stores?

The situation on the ground is less clear. Apple’s three brick-and-mortar stores in Turkey—all in Istanbul—have been turning customers away, according to a MacReports article, complete with photographs of never-ending queues.

However, some local sources disputed these reports, saying stores are selling Apple products, and the ones that aren’t are likely just running low on inventory.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.