Retailers are launching Ramadan-tailored promotions for fastmoving consumer goods that are popular during Ramadan. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

Dubai/Abu Dhabi: A non-profit consumer protection organisation expects the prices of basic commodities to increase by 25 per cent during Ramadan, according to one of its senior officials.

“Prices of food and clothes have been rising by 25 per cent and more in the beginning of Ramadan and on occasions like Eid,” Mohammad Abdullah Al Nakbi, treasurer at the UAE Society for Consumer Protection, told Gulf News. “We expect food prices to rise by 25 per cent this year at the start of Ramadan.”

Asked about the Ministry of Economy’s (MoE) efforts to stabilise prices during Ramadan, he said: “I cannot comment on the ministry, but we have been doing this for many years and I see the same problems. We can’t blame the ministry. What we need is consumer awareness.”

The ministry has warned retailers not to increase prices during Ramadan, a time when food sales shoot up as Muslims prepare iftars and invite family and friends to break their fast.

“Despite increased demand, we expect that the prices of staple food items will remain the same as last Ramadan, if not slightly lower,” Karima Berkani, senior research analyst at Euromonitor, said. “Because many of the price controls are largely the same as those implemented last year, I expect that they will be more effective this year.”

Retailers’ preparations

Retailers have already begun their preparations for Ramadan sales.

Choithrams supermarkets have Ramadan-tailored promotions for fast-moving consumer goods that are popular during the month, including rice, oats, fruits and dairy products that can save consumers up to 33 per cent in bonus packs or discounts, Manoj Thanwani, director of Choithrams, said.

Meanwhile, the Society is launching a campaign across the UAE to spread awareness on price hikes and has sent its teams to monitor prices before Ramadan, Al Nakbi said.

Joma’a Bilal, head of the board of directors of the Society, said he feared prices may shoot up during Ramadan without monitoring and emphasised that the MoE should preserve its promise to keep prices stable.

In Abu Dhabi, Dr. Hashim Al Nuaimi, director of the Consumer Protection Department, met with representatives from major retailers in the city yesterday to discuss the new promotions which will be introduced during the month of Ramadan.
Representatives from Carrefour, Spinneys, Lulu Hypermarket, Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, Al Ain Cooperative Society, Abela Superstore and Fatima Supermarket were present.

Ramadan baskets

Each retailer will be introducing two Ramadan baskets in addition to various discounts on items across all categories. The baskets range between Dh90 and Dh195 depending on the store and the items found in each.

At Abu Dhabi COOP for instance, baskets are sold at Dh99 and Dh170 with prices at 30 per cent below regular price.
The baskets are a big hit, Al Nuaimi said. Last year, the Abu Dhabi COOP sold 25,000 units and Al Ain COOP sold 30,000, he added.

Al Nuaimi also said that there would be no increase in the price of food commodities throughout Ramadan and that the department would make regular store inspections. “That’s how we make sure they [the retailers] stay competitive,” he told reporters.

When asked whether the loss had become too much to bear with the cost reductions they’re asked to put in place, one retailer said Ramadan was “a total loss” for them. However, the retailer refused to make further comments.