Ramadhan shopping bonanza brings big business to retailers

MUSCAT, MAY 16 –
Local traders expect a windfall of cash during the holy month of Ramadhan as thousands of people are starting to queue up in major shopping outlets to stock for foods and other related items.
Sales during the month of Ramadhan usually go up by about 25 per cent more than the normal months. Normally shoppers spend more money in Ramadhan than usual, it is part of local tradition and customs. Average families in Oman double their food shopping than any other month during the year.
Not only shopping malls are crowded but retail streets see a large number of shoppers filling up their trolleys. Shopkeepers, once again, rub their hands in anticipation expecting the sales bonanza of the year.
“Yes, its true that our sales go up at least by 25 per cent than the usual months. It is a month that people spend more on foods, household and clothing items. It is obviously the busiest time for us since we open very late up to one in the morning,” Mohammed al Barradai, owner of Barradai Supermarket in Seeb High street, told the Observer.
Other business owners but in different retail sections echo the same sentiment by saying they record much higher sales than the food items.
“Ramadhan, by the grace of God, is a very profitable month for us. Our business go up by more than 50 per cent than normal time. Every man and child want a new dishdasha for Eid. Our tailors work for almost 18 hours a day to meet the unprecedented demand. It is becoming very hectic and also stressful during the last half of the Ramadhan where everybody need their dishdasha in time before Eid,” Khalfan al Farsi, manager of Al Naamani Tailoring in Maabela, said.
Retail experts say that large shopping malls in the capital Muscat receive at least 50,000 shoppers per day in Ramadhan.
“Some malls in Muscat open 24 hours during the holy month. People who do not normally go to shopping malls go there in Ramadhan. They use every excuse to spend money, not just on food and clothing items, but almost anything they see. It is a very good time for retailers but customers are left to count their losses at the end of the Ramadhan by spending too much money than they can really afford,” Said al Shamsi, a retired retail banker, told the Observer.
But doctors warn that the month of ‘bounty” leads to excessive eating habits and it can have a bad reaction to health.
“Spending a lot of money on food simply means eating a lot of food, which is not good for our digestive system. It is not surprising that the hospitals’ emergency rooms receive more patients with food poisoning and other food related problems during Ramadhan than normal months. People eat more than they need and that is not right. I would like to see a national campaign during Ramadhan warning people about health implications about their overeating habits,” Dr Rajab al Mandhari, owner of a private clinic in Barka in the Batinah Governorate, said.
Theologians also caution that spending a large amount of money without justification is against the teaching of Islam.
“Ramadhan is a month of deep religious contemplation. Also it is a month of showing out gratitude to Allah. We should remember the real goal of fasting is to remember the poor who normally are hungry and do not get enough to eat. We have examples in Africa where children die of starvation and here we eat too much. It is a month of compassion and we fast to remember how painful it is not to have enough to eat so we should give money to the poor and not to waste it. This is the aim of Ramadhan and its main target,” Shaikh Hussein al Ajmi, an Imam at a mosque in Al Khabourah, told the Observer.