Ramadan is a special time of the year, not just because of the shift in the atmosphere and the people, but also in the way that business is conducted. Ramadan, is the holy month of fasting for Muslims; it is a time to pray, reflect, be charitable and be in fellowship with others. During Ramadan, business generally slows down and work days are shorter to accommodate Muslims that are fasting.
Often many key business decisions are postponed until after Ramadan to avoid making decisions while fatigued. For industries that offer B2B services, there is usually a decrease in business during these times. However, some B2C industries, such as retail, take advantage of the Ramadan culture; the shorter work hours lead to more hours spent out at malls to escape the heat. A 2016 survey by YouGov found that 53% of people said that they were more likely to increase their spending during Ramadan. Some industries that see an increase during the month of Ramadan are;
The food industry sees an increase during Ramadan, although, many would assume a decrease as many people are fasting. However, supermarkets generally anticipate a 10 to 15 percent increase in sales of processed food during the month. The supermarket grocery bill increases as people prepare for large and extravagant Iftar feasts in the evenings. A 2016 survey by YouGov found that 93% of people expect to spend more on regular household items during Ramadan.
Cafe and Restaurants
Cafes and restaurants experience an increase of patrons, not during the day, but in the evenings, as people come to celebrate with friends and family during and after Iftar. Many businessmen have meetings after evening prayer and Iftar, and usually meet out, rather than in the home.
In the couple weeks leading up and during the beginning of Ramadan, the retail industry has shown an increase in sales. In an analysis conducted by Criteo, the Middle East, experienced a 51% increase in retail sales in 2016. With the shorter working hours during Ramadan, many people go to the malls to escape the summer heat. This has lead retailers to offer large promotions, sales and discounts, leading to an increase in consumerism during this time. Clothing stores often offer discounts as people search for outfits for Eid, and electronics companies offer large discounts on smartphones and gadgets. The Criteo analysis also revealed a 33% increase of sales between the hours of 9pm and 5am, compared to non-Ramadan season.
During Ramadan, there are changes in the way business should be conducted to show consideration to those fasting;
- Avoid late afternoon meetings
To accommodate those fasting, don’t schedule meetings in the late afternoon after 3pm, as during this time, most people are drained of energy and have likely finished work for the day. Meetings are best scheduled in the late morning, when energies are still high, and people are alert and attentive.
- RSVP ‘yes’
If you are invited to an Iftar by a colleague, go. It is a great cultural and religious experience, that may be a once in a lifetime event. Additionally, being invited to a personal or private Iftar, is a privilege and is a very hospitable gesture.
- Be patient
If you are not fasting, ensure that you are patient and respectful of those that are. For non-Muslims, be aware that things may not move at the usual pace and be patient with people throughout this month.
For those that are fasting, it can often feel like productivity gets lower as the hunger sets in. Consider the following points on how you can maintain your productivity during Ramadan, even if you are low on energy.
- Plan your days ahead of time
Planning your schedule ahead of time will allow you to organise and prioritize tasks to ensure that the most important tasks are completed. When scheduling your days, put the high priority and important tasks, calls and meetings early on in the day, when energy is still high. You can place the less brain-intensive activities later in the afternoon, when energy might be slowing down.
- Work when energy is highest
Schedule your day to do the most mentally or physically demanding tasks after you’ve eaten, in the mornings and the evenings. This way the priority tasks are still completed when you are alert and less intensive tasks can be completed in between.
- Swap face to face meetings for calls
Travelling and commute can drain a lot of your energy, especially in the summer heat. Swapping your face-to-face meetings for calls will save you the time and the energy it takes to travel to that meeting while still completing the task.
As Ramadan is such a special time for Muslims, non-Muslims living in Saudi Arabia should embrace the month and the changes that occur. Learning the culture of the month will lead to a greater and enjoyable experience of Ramadan.
For those experiencing Ramadan for the first time or need advice as to how to do business during the month, contact Proven on +966 11 411 1127 or firstname.lastname@example.org.