Over the past decade, the Middle East has seen a steady influx of ex-pats from western Europe, the Americas, and other largely Christian countries. As this population continues to grow in the region so does the influence of traditionally western holidays and events.
With Christmas just around the corner and the New Year not far behind, we wanted to look at just how influential these holidays have become and how they are impacting shopping trends across two of the regions largest industries; retail shopping and travel.
Retail Shopping to Get a Holiday Bump
While exact consumer behaviour varies between countries, a rise in shopping activity during the Christmas season is a new norm in the region. This increased activity means that retailers and shopping centres across the Middle East are in an excellent position to boost their end of year sales and increase overall customer value.
During the 2017 holiday season, expect to see increases in sales of top consumer categories such as clothing, books, and technology as well as increased demand for specific items. For example, in the world of technology, 68% of consumers are planning to purchase technology gifts this Christmas with the hottest items being headphones, smartphones, and Bluetooth speakers according to the consumer technology association.
These opportunities do come with challenges however and with more shoppers it can be difficult for stores to keep up with demand. If not managed properly this can lead to product shortages and a disgruntled customer base. To fully capitalize on the holiday trends, it’s important for individual retailers to be aware of consumer demand and ensure that they have the products their customers want.
Longer Trips Popular Across the Region
Although a few countries in the region recognize Christmas as an official work holiday, this season remains a popular time for residents of all faiths to travel. In 2017, expect thousands of families to return to their home countries and just as many residents to be searching for a vacation destination. In the region, longer duration trips are in particularly high demand with many residents looking for 12 – 14 day trips.
If you are a travel business during the Christmas season this means you have a large audience of consumers who are ready to travel and willing to spend a lot of time and money on their trips. To capitalize, businesses need to work to reach these travelers via traditional and digital advertising and inspire them to book those vacations through them.
Along with effective marketing it is also important to provide incentives that match the increased demand of the market. For example, businesses can encourage travelers to book by offering special promotions targeted at longer stays such as a 10th night free or providing recreational activities when longer stays are booked.
In addition to providing customers with the right incentives, it’s also crucial that businesses understand what destinations are in demand. For families looking to return home for the holidays this largely represents countries in Western Europe and North America, where as vacationers tend to look for more Middle Eastern and Asian destinations. In a recent article, Wego (a Singapore based travel search engine) shared there most searched destinations with Dubai, Istanbul, and Bangkok topping the list.
Does your business depend on the Christmas season to boost sales? Are there any trends we missed that are important for your industry? Let us know in the comments below and be sure follow us on Twitter for all the latest Middle East trends.