With Ramadan underway, co-operative retailers in the United Arab Emirates are offering discounts for essential products.
Ramadan began on Monday 6 June and runs for 30 days. Retailers expect food consumption to increase again during Ramadan this year. While most consumers spend the day fasting, they often get together for family meals, breaking the fast at dusk. As a result, food sales increase by an average 10% during Ramadan.
The UAE, a federation of seven states, is one of the Middle East’s most important economic centres and retail remains one of the fastest growing sectors. According to Euromonitor International, a consultancy firm, the UAE retail market is expected to be valued at $53.7bn (£37.1bn) in 2016, up 7% from 2015.
This means local UAE co-operatives are faced with increased competition from big retailers. One of the country’s main co-operative retailers, the 26,000-member Union Coop, announced that it would offer over 1,000 products at affordable prices, in collaboration with 730 suppliers.
Media manager Imad Rashid said: “Union Coop is Dubai-based and until now has served only its community, while most of our competitors are UAE and globally-based, such as Carrefour, Lolo Hypermarket and Spinneys.
“We at Union Coop are heading towards a different strategy from our competitors, focusing on quality and customer happiness.
“We also strive to compete by offering reasonable prices off and on promotional campaigns. Union Coop is very well known as corporate social responsibility sponsor to many local, social services.”
Khalid Al Falasi, general manager of Union Coop, told Khaleej Times.“The campaigns, meant to alleviate the financial burden of residents, include the biggest ever 46-day Ramadan campaign worth Dh350 million (£65.8m).
“Up to Dh68 million (£12.8m) has been allocated to make the goods available at the 16 branches of the Union Coop across the country.”
Another co-op retailer, Abu Dhabi Co-op, is allocating Dh15 million (£2.8m) towards Ramadan-based initiatives, including a 17-item package sold at a 27% discount. The shopping basket will include staples such as flour, two types of rice, sugar, juice, oatmeal, tomato paste and beans.
Some items will be sold at a 50% discount. The co-op is also donating Dh1 for every own brand item purchased to Wish Come True, a charity for children with serious illnesses.
“This budget is 300% higher than what we had last year. This is due to the highly competitive nature of the market this year, the increased number of retailers and the global economy,” said Ebrahim Al Bahar, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society.
The Abu Dhabi Co-op dates back to 1981, when its founding members opened the capital’s first supermarket. The retailer has continued to grow and currently runs 40 outlets, including Spar and Megamart franchises, which it opened outside Abu Dhabi.
The co-op operates large supermarkets, convenience stores and shopping centres and serves more than 88,000 customers every day. It also has a joint-venture partnership with French home furniture concept 2XL and with Costless Electronics.
Abu Dhabi Co-op is a member of the Consumer Co-operative Union, which includes 16 co-ops with 65 branches across the UAE.
Emirates Co-op, which runs seven branches in Dubai and Hatta, has a similar approach, offering special discounts of up to 50% on 1,000 items during Ramadan. The cost of the promotion is expected to reach Dh15 million (£2.8m).
Another priority is to work together with other co-operatives on joint developments. The Union Coop and the UAQ Co-operative Society recently unveiled plans for a shopping centre in the Salma area of the emirate of Umm Al Quwain.
According to the Khaleej Times, the centre will include 25 outlets, a space for children and will cost Dh50 million (£9.4m). The project is due for completion in the first half of next year.