Consumerism and the month of Ramadan

SHAFAQNA – Most Muslims believe retailers are not responding to their Ramadan needs which could earn them more than £200m.

It is a time for family, friends and, most importantly, faith – but as British Muslim’s get ready to mark Ramadan, which starts next Tuesday, there are calls for retailers to wake up to the untapped opportunity the Islamic holy month represents for the UK economy.

Miqdaad Versi, the Muslim Council of Britain’s Assistant Secretary General, believes “the month isn’t necessarily understood” by shops and stores in Britain.

“Muslims are consumers like anyone else and spend more during Ramadan,” he said.

“If there are Muslims who are out there who want to find something but can’t, if you are able to cater to those needs you’ll make the money.

“That economic boost is great for this country and great for all the retailers who benefit from that.”

Samia Bashir said she has to go to several supermarkets to get all the different food for Ramadan feasts
Image:Samia Bashir said she has to go to several supermarkets to get all the different foods for Ramadan feasts

It is estimated the Ramadan economy is worth more than £200m in the UK and almost 4 million people will be marking it.

But, according to a study by Islamic marketing consultancy Ogilvynoor, more than three-quarters of British Muslims (78%) would like retailers to pay more attention to their specific needs.

Samia Bashir lives in London with her young family.

At this time of year, there is a lot for her to shop for.

She has Eid gifts to buy but before that she is stocking up on food.

While Ramadan involves fasting during daylight hours, at night she will be cooking all of the flavours and tastes of her childhood.

Salma Chaudhry, owner of The Halal Cosmetics Company, said her Eid set sold out quickly
Image:Salma Chaudhry, owner of The Halal Cosmetics Company, said her Eid set sold out quickly

There is no shortage of big supermarkets near to the family home yet it is the independent stores she inevitably has to head to.

“I would love to be able to go to a supermarket and get everything there… at independent stores the prices are quite high but we pay because we need [certain] things for Ramadan,” she said.

She struggles to understand why supermarkets are not better at catering for Muslim shoppers.

“I’d love to come to one place, put everything in the back of my car and just come home… [supermarkets] need to get more customers through their doors and this is their chance – Ramadan is big, it’s a whole month!”

So are retailers missing a trick?

Salma Chaudhry certainly thinks so. When The Halal Cosmetics Company she runs put out a special Eid gift set, it sold out within days.”We thought ‘okay let’s do this!’ because we have this massively spiritual month of Ramadan and then at the end the epic celebration which is Eid… really all we did was try and solve a need.

“We didn’t know if it was going to work or not but we were quietly confident and demand was absolutely huge.”

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