Retail Trends

How to Successfully Exploit the Ramadan Retail Boom

2 min read

One of the keys to  retail success is to pay close attention to the local customs in the markets where you operate. In those countries where Ramadan is widely observed, the holy month – which this year falls between May 5 and June 4 — creates both challenges and opportunities for retailers.

Businesses may be obliged to work fewer daytime hours during Ramadan, but retail sales have been shown to spike after the sun sets, when people break the fast by eating, drinking, and shopping. In addition, Ramadan is a time for gift-giving, particularly during the closing Eid al-Fitr celebration.

Clearly,  the Middle East region is one of the main beneficiaries of the “Ramadan effect,” but its not the only one.

Not just in the Middle East

Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, with more than 207m Muslims.  There are around 3.5m Muslims in the US, of which 80% say they fast during Ramadan.

The UK has 3m Muslims, and the UK Ramadan economy is worth over £200 million. British shopping centers, department stores, brands and retailers including Selfridges and John Lewis now host events and offers including bespoke packages to attract Muslim shoppers.

Consumer behavior changes considerably during Ramadan, with a surge in retail sales 1 to 2 weeks before Eid al-Fitr, according to digital marketing agency Criteo

To capture this demand, many retailers offer special deals.  This year, for example, the Expo Center in Sharjah, UAE is running a “Ramadan Nights” sale with discounts of up to 75% on a wide range of items.

The increased consumerism associated with Ramadan means many consumer-focussed companies increase their advertising spends during the holy month, and campaigns often use iconic symbols associated with Ramadan, such as crescent, lanterns, tea drinking and dates – which are commonly eaten during the breaking fast meal.

Retailers and marketers need to be cautious when running campaigns during Ramadan to ensure that do not show or say something that some Muslims could find offensive.

Preparing for the Sales Surge

As with Thanksgiving, Christmas and other festive periods, it’s important for retailers to ensure their stores are prepared to handle higher volumes of customers at peak times.

Equipping your associates with mobile POS devices means staff can help customers on the floor and reduce waiting times at fixed checkouts. Mobile POS  devices are also extremely useful when it comes to giving customers personalized attention, because staff can assess a customer’s needs and answer questions about the product and its availability right on the spot.

Malls in the Middle East are still the most popular destinations for shopping, dining and socializing, but young consumers are increasingly digital. So even though only 3% of sales actually happens online, it is important for stores to develop an integrated online presence that allows people to buy online, browse inventory, facilitate pick-up for online orders, and enable them to interact with the store and brand over social media.

If you would like to know more about how Openbravo helps customers in the Middle East, watch our webinar, Winning Omnichannel Opportunities for Retailers in the Middle East given by our Middle East team.