Maamoul vs. new clothes: The Eid spending trade-off

Published August 6th, 2013 - 09:40 GMT
As with Christmas, retailers hope for an Eid spending boom from the public (Getty images).
As with Christmas, retailers hope for an Eid spending boom from the public (Getty images).

Even with the Eid Al Fitr holiday approaching, many clothing retailers complained about their slow business during the last days of Ramadan.

Merchants interviewed by The Jordan Times stressed that although these days are usually the peak season, since families buy new clothes to celebrate Eid, parents are now thinking twice before spending extra money as they prepare for the “back to school” season.

“Ramadan took its toll on families’ purchasing power,” Mohammad Suleiman, a trader in Bayader Wadi Seer area in Amman, said.

“Now, many people are preparing for Eid by buying sweets and coffee. They are also buying stationery ahead of the school season,” Suleiman added.

“All these factors discouraged people from spending money on Eid clothes,” he told The Jordan Times at the empty store.

Mohammad Al Naimi, another trader, said the growing number of street vendors has also negatively affected business.

“They sell items at prices below the market average because they have no expenses to meet,” he noted.

Majid, a street vendor, said most merchants sell their goods only on the last 10 days of Ramadan.

“We don’t showcase our goods all year, only during the last days of Ramadan. We just want to make ends meet,” added Majid, who refused to give his full name.

Another street vendor who identified himself as Issa said even though people’s demand for accessories and clothing is low, street vendors still make good profits.

“We have no electricity or water bills to pay,” he added.

Ahmad Ebbini, the director of the Greater Amman Municipality’s (GAM) department to regulate unlicensed street vendors, said GAM teams work around-the-clock to remove street stalls.

“But the problem we face now is that shopkeepers have taken to displaying their goods on the pavement to attract more customers,” he added, noting that customers expect these goods to be cheap.

Ahmad Al Naimi, another retailer, said some shopkeepers have sold their shops and began selling goods on the street.

“These merchants could not afford to meet the expenses of their stores, so they decided to open shop on the street instead,” he added.

Suleiman noted that most customers prefer malls over regular shops to avoid haggling.

“Some customers don’t like to negotiate over prices, so they go to malls where prices are fixed,” he added.

Majid Mansi, a public sector employee, said he turned to malls to buy clothes because of the street vendors.

“The streets are not safe for my family because of the street vendors, so I decided to start buying what my family needs from malls,” he added.

Marwan Dawood, the president of the Garment Traders Association, said most vendors announced discounts to encourage customers to buy more items.

“The fact that so many clothing shops are announcing discounts shows that business is slow and traders are desperately seeking to attract customers,” he added.

Dawood said even though some shops might receive a great number of customers during the last days of Ramadan, this will not make up for the slow business over the past three months.

However, the demand for sweets and chocolate is still high ahead of the Eid holiday, which starts on Thursday.

Yasser Abbadi, one of the owners of Yasser Mall in Bayader Wadi Seer, said sweets like maamoul are a must-buy item in the last days of Ramadan.

“Most people start buying these items as of Ramadan 15, and the peak days are the last two days of the holy month,” he added.

Abbadi said sweets sales increase by 100 per cent in this period.

Ahmad Tamimi, a customer, said people may choose to abandon the tradition of buying new clothes for Eid, but they can never stop buying sweets for their children and their guests.

“Perhaps they cannot afford to buy clothes, but they do their best to buy any kind of sweet to serve during the holiday. Serving sweets is a sign of hospitality during Eid,” he added

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