Holiday shopping frenzy a windfall for traders

Shops and retailers in Oman reported record sales during the Eid holidays as shoppers went on a spending spree. A promotion bonanza has gripped cities and towns across the country, with shops remaining open till late during holidays to keep up with the last-minute shopping frenzy. High on the shopping list were clothes, watches, food, perfumes, furniture and electronics items. Shoppers also spent on buying gold ornaments such as earrings and bangles.

“We could not keep up with the shoppers. It was crazy and it is the busiest holiday I can recall. I have been in Oman for over 10 years but this holiday has been very hectic,” Shakeel Kuraishi, a salesman at City Trading Stores, told the Observer.
Travel agents were rubbing their hands with glee as people rushed to book for their Eid holidays. Air tickets to popular destinations such as Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, London, Paris, Greece, Iran and Lebanon were snapped up despite higher prices due to demand.
“It is a premier price because of the seasonal rush but holiday makers do not mind paying. They have a break and obviously they don’t care how much it costs,” Mohammed al Kaabi, owner of Al Ainaat Travels, said.
Road travellers on Thursday, the beginning of the break, had to buy insurance when they drove to the Oman-UAE border to spend their holiday in Dubai.
“We had an unprecedented 300 drivers who came over to buy car insurance for their UAE travel this Eid,” said an insurance salesman who did want to be identified.
Food caterers refused orders due to pressing demands, tailors turned away customers and so did slaughterhouses.
Many furniture deliveries could not be made because traders did not have enough staff during the holidays.
“We could not get any caterer for our Eid lunch this time. Bookings were made three weeks in advance. My wife was not happy because she had to cook for 20 people that we invited,” Mustafa Kamal, a resident of Al Khuwair, said.
The civil service, including most employers in the private sector, paid their workers early for the month of June to help them with the Eid shopping, which probably fuelled the high spending.
Though Eid shopping was a windfall for traders, it caused traffic jams, long queues and parking problems. Many shoppers found parking tickets on their windshields, which put extra cash demand on their Eid spending.
“I parked illegally on top of a kerb and saw a traffic offence ticket when I was going home. Obviously now I need to find extra cash to pay for it, which I had not planned for,” Khamis al Saadi, a resident of Seeb, said.
Emiratis were also spotted in greater number as usual this Eid.
“It is cheaper to be here than to travel to foreign lands. Oman is like our second country and it feels like home to be here,” Faisal al Gargawi, an Emirati visitor, said.

Saleh al Shaibany