MUSCAT, June 12 – Eid shoppers flocked the jewellery shops in the last minute scramble to push up sales as customers rush to buy gifts in time for their families. Jewellery store owners say that in the last few days of Ramadhan, sales have been going up by ten-fold than any other period of time during the year. “In any normal month, we make about RO 3,000 per month, but in Ramadhan we make more than RO 30,000. Most of it in the last few days before Eid. Obviously, it is the most profitable time of our business, but it is very hectic and the pressure is quite high to satisfy customers looking for the last minute bargains,” Haj Sharif Omar, a salesman at Shariff Jewellery at Seeb, told the Observer.
Some jewellers have been running out of stock of popular items and have been placing urgent orders from their partners in the GCC countries to meet the demand. “Items like bracelets, necklaces and rings go very fast. They have been in big demand in this last week of Ramadhan. We need to ask our business partners in other GCC states to bring us more such items to refresh our stock,” Ramesh Sudharsan, another salesman working for Tamasah Jewellery in Maabela, said. The majority of them have already extended the shopping hours up to 2 am in the morning to keep up with the demand in this last week of the holy month.
“They keep coming right from the iftar time all the way past midnight. We normally close at 12 am but we extended two hours more because we do not want to turn them away. They get angry when we tell them we are closing so we have to keep going until they have completed their purchasing,” Raid Khan, a salesman at Al Farash Golds in Ruwi, told Observer.
But shoppers, apart from frenzy buying just days before Eid, complain jewellery shops are taking advantage of the busiest time by hacking up the prices unfairly in ornaments like gold and diamond.
“Customers are supposed to get bargains at this time of the year but the jewellery shops have increased the prices for more than 20 per cent because they know people need to buy them. It is not fair at all and I think they take advantage of the seasonal demand,” said Asma al Shidi, a customer at Al Khuwair, looking for Eid gifts in jewellery.
However, jewellery store owners deny that they pump up prices and take advantage of customers, defending that in some items, there are special reductions to attract consumers.
“It is not true. Prices are the same. As a matter of fact, we have very special offers in old stocks to get them out of the way for new designs. We sell the old stock as lower as 25 per cent the usual price. We are boosting sales and not hacking up prices,” Raid Khan said.
In the frenzy to buy gifts in time before the first day of Eid, some consumers spend more than they can afford.
“I think I stretched myself too much this time. I had a budget of RO 500 for gold and other items of jewellery but I went way overboard. My final bill came at RO 1,430 almost three times the budget I originally planned to spend.
When you have a big family at home to make them happy then you easily overspend,” Salim al Rawahi, who bought gift for his four daughters, said.
Retail experts estimate that consumers spend at least RO 5 million worth of Eid gifts in Ramadhan for their families.
“We tend to spend more money than we can afford in this month to make sure our families are happy in Eid. It is good for the economy because there is more money in circulation but consumers need to make sure they can afford it,” Ahmed al Makbali, a retired Retail and Consumerism official formerly at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told Observer.
Saleh al Shaibany