Markets and foodstuff stores in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia have started promotional and special offers since the beginning of the month, preceding Ramadan. Retail centers have announced 30–70% sale, and car companies have started advertising special offers.
Fadel Al Boenein, an economist, says it is important that consumers don’t get dragged into false promotions because early preparations for Ramadan create fierce competition among retailers, and because they aim to achieve high profits during this season, they advertise incorrect offers. “Retailers exploit the season to dispose of stocked goods, approaching expiry dates. Promotions are usually incorrect because prices often increase in Ramadan. Therefore, customers should choose and buy only what they need,” he warns.
“Car companies always look for opportunities to make special offers, because of the high profit margins. Their marketing ability has become much weaker because of the consumers financial solvency. They make special offers during Ramadan, Haj, in the summer and all year round because they want to increase their sales, even if this means losing on high profits,” he adds.
Boenein says consumers’ financial solvency doesn’t change but it becomes weaker during certain seasons, especially since four seasons come within the span of three months; there is Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr, back to school and Eid Al Adha, which strains the family’s budgets.
About the role of the Ministry of Trade in checking the credibility of these offers and supervising markets, he says the ministry can’t cover markets all over the Kingdom.
“Consumers should monitor the markets, distinguish between prices in different stores and choose goods that suit them. Consumers should make a list of priorities when making purchases during these seasons. Early purchase is much better from a financial point of view, because stores often raise the price of goods during these seasons and not vice versa,” he says.