Ramadan 2021: What to Expect and How to Prepare Your Store

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Muslims across the globe are starting the holy month of charitable giving and fasting, Ramadan.

Ramadan is observed and celebrated across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region along with countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore. And let’s not forget Muslims across Europe and the Americas will be observing the holy month as well.

Ramadan is a time of spirituality, family, laid back entertainment, and of course shopping.

In 2020, Ramadan coincided with the coronavirus outbreak, which meant that most people had more time to spend at home and online due to government lockdowns and restrictions.

This year offers many differences but still coincides with the pandemic. This means that Ramadan 2021 will likely see an extension of some of the behaviors from 2020 along with new ones.

Ramadan 2021 begins on Tuesday, 13 April and ends on Wednesday, 12 May.

E-commerce, Ramadan 2020, and the pandemic

Ramadan 2020 saw an increased use and consumption of digital content. E-commerce apps, too, witnessed massive downloads last year.

Not to mention online searches for Ramadan-related activities, foods, and home ideas took center stage as more people stayed indoors.

Ramadan 2020 “was a big year for home baking — even more so during Ramadan. Searches for quick recipes, like 10-minute biscuits, grew 1,000% week-on-week during the holy month as people sought new ways to make traditional favorites online,” a report by Think with Google showed.

Although Ramadan is a month of fasting, where Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, it’s also a month where food is a main theme.

Long-awaited each year, the month of Ramadan is known for its oriental settings in restaurants and cafes along with its foods and beverages.

Because food is a main aspect of the month, foodies across MENA registered a 125% year-on-year surge in food-related queries in Ramadan 2020 as more people sought inspiration for foods during lockdown.

As a result of those queries, downloads for grocery delivery apps in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia increased by 23% in the first week of Ramadan 2020 compared to a year earlier, according to data by Think with Google.

To create those unique Ramadan dishes, consumers resorted to e-commerce apps for their shopping needs, especially as supermarkets and pharmacies remained open during lockdown.

Ramadan last year witnessed a 30% year-on-year increase in shopping queries in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and by 45% in the UAE.

Since the holy month is a time of spirituality, Ramadan 2020 witnessed a 1,860% year-on-year leap in the religious app downloads.

“Meanwhile ‘donations and charitable giving’ reached an all-time high on Google Search and YouTube last year,” Think with Google said.

Ramadan 2020 stats

Looking at what happened in 2020, when the pandemic was just starting out, but also making waves across the globe, can give some indication of what to expect in 2021.

Ads played a major role in directing and driving consumers towards online stores, products, entertainment, and general shopping.

Roughly 61% of Egyptian viewers and 68% of Saudi viewers watched more ads in Ramadan 2020 compared to the previous year.

It’s worth noting that Egypt is the most populous country in the MENA region with 100 million people.

In Asia, a report by Criteo, which analyzed over 8 million online shopping transactions across 143 retailers in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, showed that the third week of Ramadan offered the largest opportunity for online retailers.

This is due to people nearing the end of Ramadan and turning their attention to the up-coming Eid Al-Fitr holiday and festivities.

Online retail sales surged 67% year-on-year in the third week of Ramadan 2020, while online travel sales grew 14%.

What do people buy in Ramadan?

Before you begin looking at what your store can offer to consumers in Ramadan this year, it’s important to know what’s at the top of people’s minds during the season.

“Categories with the highest volume of sales since mid-February in [the Middle East and Africa were] personal care, clothing, kitchen and dining, electronics accessories, shoes, communications, audio, jewelry, décor and clothing accessories,” Criteo data showed.

Here’s a more detailed list.

  • Food: Nuts, dates, basic needs, and groceries top the list. Many consumers search for ‘Ramadan recipes’ to make, which increases the food-buying.
  • Beverages: Fresh juices and teas are especially popular, along with water and carbonated beverages.
  • Clothes: Customers like to shop oriental abayas, kaftans, and other clothing items that come with Ramadan designs.
  • Scarves and head covers: Many Muslim women wear scarves and head covers. Shopping for scarves generally increases in Ramadan.
  • Home decoration: Ramadan makes people excited to decorate their homes with accessories that give a sense of festivity. These accessories include: wall decorations, colorful lanterns, table cloths,…among others.
  • Arabic calligraphy: Generally speaking, designs with Arabic calligraphy have been gaining traction. But this seems to increase in Ramadan and spans clothes, decorations, trinkets, jewelry, and other items.
  • Prayer rugs and mats: These are often bought as gifts during the month.

Another reason why shopping for clothes increases in Ramadan is because it’s followed by Eid Al-Fitr, a short holiday and feast, where consumers buy new clothes to celebrate.

Ramadan, sales, and forecasts  

Data by has Criteo found that “the best opportunity for connecting with shoppers is before Eid Al-Fitr, during the second half of Ramadan.” The report also showed that sales tend to “plummet” during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.

Surprisingly, the report found that “sales at 4am during Ramadan are 17% higher than an average day.” This data was for Ramadan 2020 but it’s fair to note that some Ramadan habits stay the same because Muslims break their fast around the same time.

This timing changes from one country to another based on when the sun sets, which means you can expect the similar behavior in Ramadan 2021 and the years to come.

What’s not surprising was how buying decisions tend to plummet around 6pm as Muslims begin preparing to break their fast.

This year marks the second year where the Muslim month of fasting coincides with the coronavirus pandemic, which means we’re likely going to see more online content consumption and online shopping.

Data by Think with Google and Criteo indicate that sales tend to increase in the weeks leading up to Ramadan as well as the first two weeks of the holy month.

Prepare your store for Ramadan 2021

As a store owner considering Ramadan buyers, you’ll want to prep your store for upcoming businesses.

Normally, you’d want to have a plan before Ramadan but for 2021, the days leading up to Ramadan are over.

But don’t fret. Here are some tips to get your products before your customers.

Remember: The first two weeks and the final week of Ramadan are crucial.

1. Personalize the Ramadan experience

It’s likely that not all your products are a good fit for Ramadan. So try to show customers the products they are relevant to them.

“Ramadan shoppers are likely to be looking for things that help them observe Ramadan – and those purchases vary by time period. Before Ramadan, we could expect groceries, décor, and home goods especially to rise. Travel planning and gift purchases could happen as the holiday progresses,” notes Criteo.

By understanding your customers and their needs, you’ll be able to personalize their experience, show them what they need and help them make quicker decisions.

2. Give your website a Ramadan or oriental look

This is optional especially if you serve customers from across the globe. But giving your homepage an oriental Ramadan-ish look can help you not only attract Ramadan shoppers, but also give your customers a sense of togetherness and community.

If your customers are focused around the Middle East, Asia, or both, then a Ramadan feel can help you.

3. Find your shoppers

If you’re planning a Ramadan marketing campaign, then you should target the customer base that’s more likely to be shopping during Ramadan. You can also target customers by region or country.

“If you’ve run previous Ramadan campaigns, it’s important to reconnect with those shoppers,” explains Criteo.

For example, you know that customers in the MENA region and some parts of Asia will likely be doing some Ramadan shopping. Target those customers.

4. Expand your market

Ramadan is an annual one-month opportunity. That said, many people in many countries around the world observe the holy month.

And while the Ramadan rituals are observed by Muslims, many non-Muslims take the opportunity to buy oriental products like home decorations, dishes, beverages, and foods.

That’s why investing in a marketing campaign can be very good for your store – if you do it right.

Your ads should be personalized and directed to people who are more likely to buy your products during the Ramadan season.

5. Add or use a loyalty program

Loyalty programs are generally a good way to create loyal customers who will come back to your store.

If you have a loyalty program, you can use it to create hype about your Ramadan-suited products.

If you don’t have a loyalty program, you can install one and start building a relationship with customers during Ramadan and then use that relationship in the future.

Loyalty programs help businesses engage customers and offer personalized experiences in e-commerce stores.

If you’re using Gameball’s loyalty programs, you can send customized messages to your customers who are likely to be celebrating Ramadan or notify them of special cashback options on products they are likely to be looking to buy.

Final Words

Ramadan is a month of fasting, spirituality, family gatherings (pandemic or no pandemic), and a time to explore new ideas and opportunities.

As a store owner, Ramadan presents you with an opportunity to either create a new customer base (if you have the relevant products), or give current customers a new experience that helps you build a relationship with them.

Every year, we see trends in Ramadan along with new opportunities. Ramadan 2020 and Ramadan 2021 are no different. In fact, they offer greater opportunities because while people will still fast their behaviors have to adapt to new circumstances (hint: a pandemic).

So, use this time and opportunity to understand your customers. Figure out their needs and interests this year and use that information for personalization in the next.

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