The holy month of Ramadan is a very special period of time for Muslims around the world. It can be said that no other month in the year punctuates the lifestyles of Muslims like Ramadan does and a definite change in people's behavior and preferences can be observed during this time. This article takes a closer look at the unique Ramadan & Eid lifestyle choices made by Muslims globally - particularly in terms of shopping - as per insights shared by the Mastercard-CrescentRating Ramadan & Eid Lifestyle Report 2022.
Being the 22nd report in the series of Mastercard-CrescentRating Muslim Lifestyle market reports, the Ramadan & Eid Lifestyle Report 2022 takes an in-depth look at the potential changes to the preferences & behavior of Muslims during Ramadan, as they adjust to the customary practices in the new normal. Following two years of disruption due to the pandemic, this year was the first opportunity to observe any changes that revolve around traditional Ramadan customs and practices - particularly community-related activities. As such, the report offers invaluable insights on spiritual practices, community practices, charity, dining, and Eid celebrations - based on detailed surveys & consumer interviews. The Ramadan & Eid Lifestyle Report also covers how various destinations are catering to the requirements of Muslims during Ramadan.
The customs and traditions of Ramadan can differ slightly across destinations, even though the main practices such as fasting and prayers remain the same. Due to the varying times for sunrise and sunset around the world, the duration of fasting may differ but the average fasting time is generally around 11-16 hours per day. However, there are a few destinations such as those in Europe that have fasting hours of over 20 hours since Ramadan falls during summer. During summer, there are destinations that face daytime temperatures of over 40°C, whilst others have relatively cooler climates. As such, the experience of fasting will be vastly different for Muslims, based on their region.
This year, over 1.4 billion Muslims are expected to observe the fast - out of an estimated population of 2 billion Muslims from over 200 countries. 80% of these Muslims live in countries that have a predominantly Muslim population, where over 50% of the country's population are Muslims. 500 million Muslims are expected to visit the mosque at least once a day and 70% of the fasting population are expected to break fast with extended family and friends. Out of those traveling during Ramadan, 24% plan to travel to perform Umrah.
With Ramadan being an important time of year, quite a bit of shopping is done as part of preparations. Ramadan & Eid festivities include shopping for numerous items ranging from clothes to food to household items. It is not uncommon for shops & stores to offer special Ramadan sales & promotions during this time of the year. As Eid draws closer, shopping activities generally increase as most people seek to buy Eid gifts for their loved ones, as well as new Eid outfits and food items for the Eid table.
The Mastercard-CrescentRating Ramadan & Eid Lifestyle Report 2022 states that over 80% of respondents say that they shop for clothes. 44% of respondents stated that they always wear new garments, 40% stated that they wear new garments sometimes whilst only 15% stated that they do not wear new garments. This is in line with the customary tradition of dressing up in new clothes & garments to celebrate the special occasion - be it at home or elsewhere.
Insights from the report also state that other shopping items during this season include groceries (50%) and gift items (38%). It is observed that the amount of groceries purchased has substantially increased during Ramadan since most households prepare feasts and open their homes to their extended families and friends.
Gifting is a very special part of Eid celebrations and festivities are considered to be incomplete without Eid gifting. With Eid being a time of Eid happiness, togetherness, and sharing, most Muslims celebrate the occasion by buying gifts for their family and loved ones - be it new clothes, food or even money. As such, most shopping complexes and businesses offer numerous discounts during the season for Muslims in order to support their Eid shopping.
The pandemic was a trying period of time for everyone around the world, bringing about numerous changes in their regular day-to-day activities. With the rising number of infections and repeated lockdowns, everyone's lives changed drastically over the last two years. Ramadan during the last two years of the pandemic was observed very differently, with most countries closing off mosques and places of worship in order to encourage social distancing. As such, many Muslims were cut off from communal prayers during Ramadan as well as the associated meals & charity work that most people were accustomed to. Visiting relatives also reduced as traveling was discouraged and hence Ramadan was observed in a very different way.
However, a shopping pattern that was observed was an increase in online shopping during the pandemic. As most people were confined to their homes and did not wish to risk heading outside to conduct their shopping, many turned to online shopping - which proved to be the safer and more popular shopping alternative. This pattern was observed post-pandemic as well.
The Mastercard-CrescentRating Ramadan & Eid Lifestyle Report 2022 states that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the difference between those who planned to shop at malls and online shoppers was vast. A vast majority of shoppers (57%) chose to visit malls and stores, whilst only 29% of shoppers opted for online shopping. However, this changed drastically after the pandemic. The number of online shoppers increased to 44% whilst the number of people who planned to shop at malls dropped to 48% - indicating almost an equal number of people for each preference. Other shopping preferences included Ramadan Bazaars and neighborhood boutiques, where numbers remained relatively unchanged.
The 15% increase in online shopping post-COVID19 indicates a shift in shopping behavior due to a number of reasons - such as better convenience and elevated safety. The low turnout in bazaars and neighborhood boutiques is likely due to the unfamiliarity of the concept amongst most respondents. However, it is clear that the pandemic has affected the way people celebrate Eid - especially in terms of shopping - with few participants claiming that the occasion did not feel as festive as it did before, prior to the pandemic.
Regarding the best timing to conduct Eid shopping, 25% of participants stated that they shop prior to Ramadan, 11% of participants stated that they typically shop at the beginning of Ramadan, while 33% stated that they shop mid-Ramadan and 32% stated that they shop towards the end of Ramadan and closer towards Eid.
In terms of payment mode, a large majority of respondents (68%) stated that they preferred cash payments, while 42% preferred debit card payments, 23% preferred credit card payments, 14% preferred online transfers and 8% preferred an e-wallet.
It is evident that behavioral changes can be witnessed during Ramadan in terms of shopping. More insights on key aspects of Ramadan & Eid behavior and preferences are provided by the Mastercard-CrescentRating Ramadan & Eid Lifestyle Report 2022 - in terms of spiritual activities, time spent with family, activities with the community, charity plans, fasting & dining preferences as well as travel. You may download a copy of the report by visiting the below link.