Ramadan shopping in Oman set to be bigger this year

Oman Sunday 03/April/2022 23:15 PM
By: Saleh Al Shaibany
Ramadan shopping in Oman set to be bigger this year
Retail experts say they expect a big surge in online shopping, because consumers still prefer to limit their exposure to potential COVID-19 infections.

Muscat: With fewer COVID restrictions in place this Ramadan, shopping in Oman is expected to see a big increase.
Supermarkets and souqs are already reporting a rise in customers who have turned up in larger numbers to do their shopping.

Surge in online shopping
Meanwhile, retail experts say they expect a big surge in online shopping, because consumers still prefer to limit their exposure to potential COVID-19 infections, and they want to be free of the hassle of queuing up for long periods of time.

“Many people still want to be on the safe side even though the COVID situation is getting better in the country. They want to keep their distance and at the same time be free to enjoy their evenings and do something else,” Mohammed Al Fizari, a retail expert at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, told Times of Oman.

Oman has seen fewer instances of COVID infections since the beginning of this year, compared to the summer of last year when the daily average of infected people was recorded at over 2,000.

This is the time of the year when people look forward to shopping -- a report by consumer research company RedSeer forecast that this Ramadan people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are likely to spend about $6.2 billion on shopping.

Ramadan in Oman began on Sunday, 3 April 2022, and ordinary Omanis are on the same page as retail experts saying they are not very keen to be among the crowds out shopping during Ramadan.

Proliferation of stores
“Why should I push around with people this Ramadan in a supermarket when I can order online? All the big food outlets deliver right at your home through their online portals. I want to be free to do other things, especially in the evenings, instead of queuing up for food,” Harith Al Farsi, a banking executive, said.

Most of the shopping crowds in Ramadan are found in the evenings after iftar and when the weather is cooler. Some consumers cite tight parking spaces as a deterrent for overcrowded Ramadan shopping.

Parking is a big problem
“Parking is a big problem during Ramadan. It is no fun pushing trolleys while securing your car. If you go a little late for your shopping, you will never find parking space. I will settle for online shopping this Ramadan than go through the hassle,” Fatma Al Darei, told Times of Oman.

Other consumers still harbour old, painful memories that linger from last year’s bad experience.
“I contracted COVID last Ramadan when I was doing my food shopping. I don’t want to go through the same experience. I will stay at home this time and order my food online. It is safer that way,” Kareem Al Jufaili, a resident of Al Khuwair, said.
Retail workers also expect a surge in online shoppers this Ramadan.

Samer Hakeem, operations manager of online supermarket Rafeeq, said, “A lot of supermarkets expanded their online operations during the pandemic, and these facilities are here to stay. Around the world, online shopping is steadily expanding and people know that with platforms like ours, they are guaranteed freshness, quality and punctuality.

“Online shopping has a big advantage, particularly for people with young children or old folks living at home, as they might be needed to look after them, and more importantly, do not wish to expose themselves to potential infection that could harm those back home,” he added.

“Online food shopping has been steadily increasing in the last one year and I am not surprised the trend will continue this Ramadan,” Shaikha Saleh, a cashier at Carrefour, told Times of Oman.