Weekly online retail sales showed a maximum uplift of over 42 percent and a 35 percent rise in website visitors in the Middle East during Ramadan, according to new figures.

Criteo, the commerce marketing technology company which has released data that reflects consumers’ online spending behaviours during the holy month, said the highest rise in online retail sales and website visitors is typically seen in the week before Eid-al Fitr.

It said during the week of Eid al-Fitr, sales and visitors decline as many residents travel during this period but sales still remain higher than in an average week before Ramadan.

Criteo also found that retailers offering cash on delivery and multiple payment options would achieve higher sales during Ramadan as the majority of consumers shopping online in the Middle East still prefer to pay cash on delivery for their purchases.

It said 55 percent of the people in the UAE and 59 percent in Saudi Arabia chose the Cash on Delivery option over other e-payment options.

Michele Iozzo, managing director Middle East & Africa at Criteo, said: “Ramadan is a period of great significance in this region and influences purchasing and consumption patterns, due to the traditional gifting during Eid al-Fitr, with 61 percent of survey respondents in Saudi Arabia and 58 percent in the UAE planning to buy gifts for others during Ramadan.

“It is thus important for marketers and advertisers to consider the shift in habits during this time and tailor their approach to consumers in order to provide superior value and meet their needs.”

Ramadan also has a significant impact on travel plans and bookings, Criteo said, adding that travel trends are the opposite of retail trends with little change in consumer behaviour until the third and fourth week when they dramatically spike.

People travel less during Ramadan weeks, but the activity picks up during Eid-al Fitr and the following period of the summer holidays. Travel bookings witnessed a sudden surge in the fourth week of Ramadan with an increase of up to 75 percent in weekly sales and an average sales uplift of 39 percent during Ramadan.

Criteo said it identified these trends through the analysis of over 4.2 million retail shopping transactions, and over 7.7 million travel sales bookings across desktop, smartphones and tablets from 94 major advertisers in the Middle East.

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