DUBAI: Online retailers across the Middle East have reported a surge in spending during Ramadan with a marked shift towards the use of mobile.
Shopping patterns have traditionally shifted towards evenings during Ramadan and while shopping malls have extended their opening hours to take advantage of this, online retailers in particular have reaped benefits.
In Turkey, for example, Hepsiburada reported sharp increases in traffic between 1am and 3am as people observing the fast went shopping to pass the time before the morning meal.
And in Dubai, Awok said that online shopping was up 35% between the evening meal that breaks the fast and the pre-dawn meal.
With the end of the fasting period last Friday, online retailers expected another uplift as people bought Eid gifts.
"We see a big see push online and [changing] consumer habits due to mobile," Ronaldo Mouchawar, chief executive of Souq.com, told the Financial Times.
Souq.com, which claims to be the largest ecommerce site in the Arab world, was anticipating a 20-25% increase in traffic during this period.
Mobile penetration in the region is growing, helping to draw more consumers online generally, but the patterns of behaviour during Ramadan mean it also has a role to play at certain times.
According to Criteo, computers are more often used for online shopping during the second and third weeks of Ramadan as people prepare for the holidays that follow.
Sales via mobile peak during the fourth week when many people are away from home visiting family.
And as the Eid holiday period gets under way, so too will mobiles be more prominent in online retail.
Criteo also noted the lack of global ecommerce names in the Middle East. "Local guys were quick to set up strong local presences, whereas big international ones went for global platforms," explained Dirk Henke, Criteo's managing director for eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
"Now locals literally rule ecommerce here."
Data sourced from Financial Times, The National, Today's Zaman, Criteo; additional content by Warc staff