With scores of malls and thousands of outlets tempting us to part with our cash, the UAE isn't exactly short on opportunities to shop.
But Ramadan and Eid present many retailers with a high profile stage to offer some of their most generous deals, from food to fridges and cars to cabinets.
If you are about to move into a new home or simply seeking to freshen up furniture or replace appliances, it is often a prime time to save copious dirhams.
Consumers can grab up to 70 per cent off selected items during the holy month, according to Rhiannon Downie-Hurst, founder of UAE home lifestyle platform Home Club ME.
“Lots of sales and promotions happen during both Ramadan and Eid,” she says.
“Not only that, many home decor brands and furniture stores get creative with interior styling ideas around Ramadan and Eid for dining and entertaining at home.”
Ms Downie-Hurst says hardware chain ACE will be running discounts and promotions of up to 50 per cent on all product categories, including do-it-yourself items, tools, cookware and outdoor furniture.
Carrefour is also among major retailers that will slash prices on items such as essential kitchen appliances and other lines during the season, while luxury furniture brand Marina Home has been known to generously discount many products.
Not surprisingly, then, some households delay major purchases until the Ramadan and Eid offers arrive.
Among them are members of Dirham Stretcher, a Facebook community for people seeking to make their budgets go further.
"We wouldn't be able to say when it started, but Ramadan sales have become an institution to the extent that many people will put off purchasing expensive items knowing that the sales will be on," Dirham Stretcher's administrator Susan Syrek says.
“This is particularly true for cars … they might not necessarily be cheaper but, in addition to financing options, car dealers often add freebies such as free insurance, servicing or extras like window tinting.
“The other stars of Ramadan sales are white goods and appliances, electronics and, of course, food and anything related to food preparation, from pots and pans to ovens.
“Many stores offer genuine and significant savings, and it is these sales we tell our community about.”
Ms Syrek and fellow administrator Selma Abdelhamid also recently launched a new website www.sum.ae where they plan to promote particular sales and share the best deals.
“Furniture stores will focus on dining tables and plate sets, while electronic stores will be displaying food processors and other appliances,” says Ms Abdelhamid, who expects more sales to happen online amid the ongoing pandemic.
"We encourage our community to compare prices as the sales are often better online – it's always worth checking and comparing."
The month can prove equally significant for retailers, who experience a rise in trade in certain sectors.
Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer of Jacky's Electronics and Jacky's Retail, which operates Samsung brand shops, describes the electronics segment as "fairly competitive and busy year-round", but says Ramadan can deliver up to 25 per cent of annual domestic home appliance sales.
“The nature of our offers and promotions typically varies from season to season or when new product launches happen … for Ramadan specifically, the focus tends to move to the kitchen,” Mr Panjabi says.
“We run various promotions and offers on categories such as small kitchen appliances, cookers and freezers.”
Mr Panjabi says an increase in people cooking at home during the pandemic year has lifted “niche categories” like breadmakers or smoothie makers into the mainstream. TVs also sell well, especially as more people are at home and regional networks typically produce tailored programming for Ramadan.
“As we get closer to Eid, we tend to see gifting products sell better and by then, we will have offers across various smartphone brands,” Mr Panjabi says.
“Due to increased volumes during Ramadan for certain categories, we are able to negotiate better pricing with some brands, which we pass on to our customers.
“That said, the challenge in the last year has also been in terms of ensuring a steady supply chain – many factories have been disrupted by the pandemic, while at the same time demand has shot up as people spend more time at home.”
That said, many physical and e-commerce brands will view Ramadan and Eid as important for sales and will look to entice customers where they can.
“Being a retailer today is about being where our customer is,” Mr Panjabi adds.
“To this end, we need to be present in the malls that they visit or online. We are planning for Ramadan thinking of all these sales channels together and planning our offers accordingly.”
Shruthi Nair, executive editor of retail business intelligence platform Images RetailME, says Ramadan has always been a “brilliant marketing opportunity” for retailers to be aggressive with their campaigns and promotions across all channels.
“Traditionally, the targeted, feel-good, socially conscious campaigns have resulted in brands building lasting relationships with their customers, provided they get the messaging right,” she says.
"However, it's not just brand awareness and reach that sees a surge during the holy month, but conversion rates also spike drastically, especially during the second half of Ramadan."
Ms Nair says desktop and mobile sales in this region have always been high, but are expected to be higher "given 'stay-at-home' continues to be the norm" with more people downloading apps, increasing purchases – after sunset – and actively participating in contests and promotions.
“For a retailer, this is also a period where man management, stock management, operations management and cash-flow management will all be put to test,” Ms Nair says. She adds that retailers must also be mindful that customers are going to be bargain-hunting, so should avoid “over-promotions”.
"Balance is key, so every scheme they plan needs to be formulated such that business continuity can be maintained and the months after Ramadan aren't a struggle for them because, after 2020, they can't quite afford another big blow."
So what other seasonal offers should we look out for?
Home Club ME’s Ms Downie-Hurst says kitchen, furniture and bathroom wrap company Creative Wrap could be running their first Ramadan promotion this year.
“Another great company for stylish furniture and decor is Casa Lusso Furniture UAE, which runs sales of up to 70 per cent during Ramadan,” she says.
“Home Club ME vendors Liquid Of Life will be offering 10 per cent off their under-sink water filtration systems during the holy month, as well as Lampshades Dubai, also offering 10 per cent off their bespoke lighting and lampshades design services.”
Dirham Stretcher expects air fryers to be Ramadan bestsellers, but anticipates its members will be alert to all emerging deals.
"We don't necessarily pick any certain promotional period to post to the community, but we will post when we see a genuine good deal members will be interested in," Ms Syrek says.
“Several brands we collaborate with will have offers tailormade for our audience.”
Certainly, it seems there’s an expectation around Ramadan and Eid – much like Dubai Shopping Festival – that some substantial savings could be in the offing.
“These sales have become such a norm that members will wait before changing or upgrading their current appliances or larger purchases,” Ms Abdelhamid says.
“They will often shop around first, asking other community members where a particular product can be found at a good price, then they will wait for a promotion of that product.”
She adds that some stores will also offer a flat discount on all their products for a day or two, such as during Eid weekend.
“This is an opportunity many people will wait for to purchase non-Ramadan related items, for example furniture.”