The ‘Ramadan Kareem' posters and banners that adorn the walls and windows of many shops in Dubai show that the advent of the holy month has not escaped the emirate's retailers.
But shop owners are divided over the effect that Ramadan has on their bottom lines. Some retailers claim that spending during the month represents 12 per cent to 20 per cent of their annual sales, while others see shopper numbers fall.
"As a retailer we take special care to offer products that are sought out by customers during Ramadan. We provide Ramadan-specific items like hotpots, gift items, party sets, serving dishes. These products are in great demand," explained Kurian Chacko, retail manager of Hadi Enterprises.
"We have started preparing for Ramadan packages for a while."
Chacko said that consumer demands and spending rise during Ramadan, reflecting a huge increase in sales in the context of their annual figures. "We never witness decline in our sales during Ramadan. In fact, it increases," he said.
This could turn out to be especially true this year, with Ramadan falling in the summer holidays and ending prior to the start of the academic year.
But Joy Alukkas, chairman of the Joyalukkas Group, is less upbeat. He says that sales tend to decline at the beginning of Ramadan, although this drop is later offset by a spike in sales during the end of the month.
"There is decline in the initial period, but sales start growing after this and, before the end of this period, we manage to maintain our projections or sometimes even exceed it," Alukkas said.
He said that the post-Iftar period is the busiest time of the day, while the group's stores get extremely busy as Eid approaches.
In terms of marketing, the Joyalukkas Group styles its products specifically for Ramadan.
"We tailor some special Ramadan-centric offers and promotions and also create special jewellery collections for Iftar parties and Eid celebrations," she said.
"We will have special collections and offers for our customers. The special collections will be for Iftar parties and celebration collections for Eid and the offers and promotions will be a continuation of our summer specials since the holy month falls in this period."
In terms of staffing, Chacko explained that Muslim staff take a break during Iftar, while other retailers tend to change the staff rota with particular importance given to the night shift since the peak sale period is normally between 7:30pm to 9:30pm. "We manage this with appropriate staffing and by constantly refreshing our stocks."
Alukkas added that it is paramount that customers do not feel let down by staffing levels during the holy month.
"We strictly follow the rules with respect to work hours for our fasting staff and the rest continue on normal basis to ensure our customers are not inconvenienced," he said.
From/ Gulf News