Retailers have been eyeing occasions and events to increase sales and thereby increase revenues. Shopping has become an essential element of celebrating the festive seasons all across the globe. Whether it is gifting family and friends, or buying new clothes or taking advantage of sales and heavy discounts, there is always something for everyone to buy during such special days.
Ramadan, the holiest month for Islam, is when Muslims everywhere in the world fast from dawn to dusk for a period of thirty days. During the last few days of the Ramadan people not only indulge in delicious meals but also in shopping feasts. This is an inviting opportunity for retailers to boost their business and has led to the commercialization of the festival. The grand shopping extravaganza witnesses shoppers making record breaking sales by purchasing items like electronics, jewellery, automobiles, and clothing.
The fashion calendar has also taken note of the festival of Ramzan. So much so that New York based fashion designer label Donna Karen launched a unique collection dedicated to it. Along with releasing its Middle East website, DKNY showcased an ensemble of bold colours and prints. Reflecting the ritual of fasting from sunrise to sunset, bright shades of orange and deep hues of blue have been incorporated. Simple monochrome silhouettes, maxi dresses, jumpsuits, long skirts, and loose shirts are the styles created for Ramadan special. Middle East and South Asia are big destinations to leverage on Ramadan centric collections.
Indian fashion designers also are popular for their exquisite craftsmanship and remain favourites among Middle Eastern shoppers. With women in Gulf countries beginning to get out of their comfort zone to try new styles, many designers have created studded abayas and long skirts with peplum tops to embrace the new era of Muslim fashion. The Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) reports that there has been a significant rise in the number of buyers from Middle East flying to India during Fashion weeks for the past few years. Designers like Manish Malhotra and J.J.Vallaya have presented exclusive collections during Ramadan and own stores in these oil rich countries.
South Jakarta also holds an exclusive fair and fashion event called Ramadan Runway with as many as sixty designers exhibiting their assemblage in it. The event promotes Islamic fashion in a big way in Indonesia. Flowy dresses in pastel hues with elaborate embroideries and ornate hijabs are commonly found in designer collections along with three layered Khimar (long hijabs covering the torso region) in different colours. With Muslim women ready to experiment, palazzo pants, long tunics, and Kaftans make it apt for conservative yet stylish looks for the festivities.
There is also a huge rush of shoppers at global shopping destinations especially in London. Many rich Middle Eastern shoppers fly to the United Kingdom for a shopping party of a very high level. Apparel retailers are leveraging intensively on the Ramadan rush and are believed to be a rapidly growing trend and highly lucrative market. According to the London Luxury Quarter, the average spending power of Middle Eastern Shoppers ranked right behind the Chinese and was among the top spenders. Although tourists from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar constitute a small percentage in comparison to those from US and Europe but they certainly top the list when it comes to lavish spenders. In the year 2013, tourist shoppers from the Middle East spent a whopping $ 1.5 billion. The Kuwaitis are the largest spenders on luxury products among them.
Owing to such shopping trends many luxury apparel retailers provide VIP services to such clients exclusively for this period. Some retailers even offer a preview of their products pre-Ramadan. Brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Dior offer private client services with limited edition collections to attract opulent shoppers of the Middle East. While high end malls in London provide concierge services and pick up of shopping bags and escorting them to their cars.
Apart from London, Paris and Dubai also remain popular destinations to shop for Ramadan. Shopping malls in Dubai have high number of footfalls and even higher amount of sale. A popular mall in Dubai accounts to an increase of about 8 per cent in sales during the first 18 days of Ramadan. The Macy's stores in California also welcomed Muslim shoppers with special displays and "Happy Ramadan" signs. This makes shoppers feel important and inclusive leading to better sales. According to AMCC, the spending power of Muslims in America is expected to be more than $ 100 billion, and many brands are starting to recognize a potential market for their clothing.
Many luxury brands like Valentino, Chanel, and Gautier offer exclusive previews specially designed for the Gulf market during this festive season in hotels and even homes of the well-heeled and are doing everything in their stride to reach the potential consumers. With rising competition and high market prospects, the holy month of Ramadan has become a boon for apparel retailers to increase their business and fetch higher sales.