With less than two weeks to go until Ramadan, Chris Dillon speaks to Bradford retailer Saleem Ahmed to discover how to make the most of the month-opportunity that lasts from May 26 – June 25 this year.

Become a destination

Convenience retailers that make their stores a place where shoppers can get everything they need for Ramadan can win shoppers for life. It’s a month-long opportunity that you should consider if there is demand from local customers for Ramadan sales.

Saveco in Bradford, West Yorkshire, is a continental food cash & carry and independent shop.

For the team, Ramadan is one of the biggest events on the calendar and sales are growing each year. “We start getting in dates a few weeks before Ramadan starts. It’s our biggest-selling product and we plan everything around it,” says Saleem Ahmed, Saveco manager.

Dates are an important part of the Ramadan offer because they traditionally start the evening meal, Iftar. You should make sure you offer shoppers foods that are rich in energy and protein as they will be looking for food that will get them through the day.

The convenience market’s share of world food sales grows by 17% during Ramadan because shoppers trust their local stores to cater for their needs more.

Azhar Zouq, managing director of Lancashire Farm Dairies, says: “For a celebration like Ramadan, the focus is on large family feasts, so keeping stock levels  of larger product sizes readily available will create an opportunity to capitalise as families bulk buy.”

Much of this bulk buying will happen towards the start of the festivities, but if you can manage your stock to keep availability, you can keep sales strong throughout.

“This shop will be busy all through Ramadan, but the week before and the first week of Ramadan is the busiest. Then it gets busy again for Eid, another massive opportunity,” says Ahmed.

“Every year it’s growing more and more. We get a lot of new customers coming in every year at Ramadan so we try to make them feel special and retain them.”

Do it: Promote your range of dates on social media so shoppers know to come to you during Ramadan.

Focus on key lines

Shoppers tend to do more cooking from scratch during Ramadan, which means you must manage a broad product range well. Promoting well-known brands that are associated with Ramadan is a great way to draw attention to your display. 

“During Ramadan, Muslims drink a lot of water in the morning to last the whole day. Soft drinks like Rubicon are very important and usually consumed in the evening when we open the fast,” Saleem says. Rubicon will be backed by a social media campaign during Ramadan to drive sales.

Adrian Troy, marketing director at AG Barr, says: “Shoppers will be starting to stock up well ahead of Ramadan and we recommend key brands are given more prominence during this time.”

You should talk to your shoppers ahead of Ramadan to find out any lines that you are missing. “There’s not just the Pakistani community to cater for. Through talking to our customers we’ve realised we need to stock more products from India, Malaysia and other places on the continent.

“We’ve also found we need to increase our gluten-free and healthy ranges,” says Saleem.

Key lines include dates, rice, flour, chickpeas, milk and yoghurt. Zouq says: “Lancashire Farm sees sales soar at this time of year as shoppers look to make the most of the versatility of yoghurt to enhance their dishes.”

Even if you do not have much space, stocking a display of large bags of rice with Ramadan-themed PoS can still encourage interest in your shop. “Smaller stores need to focus on these important products and try to increase their range. Talk to your customers and find out what they want,” says Saleem.

Create a buzz in store

he final step towards hosting a successful Ramadan in your shop is to create displays and events that help you engage with your shoppers.

“The whole store looks different during Ramadan and we’ve got beautiful areas in store and our displays are ready. It’s a great atmosphere during Ramadan,” says Saleem.

Convenience retailers might not be able to give a large amount of space to a Ramadan display, but using PoS throughout your store on relevant products will appeal to shoppers coming to you to stock up.

Zouq says: “Having a specific Ramadan section with a range of suitable products and formats works well for encouraging impulse buys and having Ramadan signage throughout the store makes the shopping experience easier.”

Events are another great way to bring in new shoppers and win their custom. “We’ve had events all last week and we’ve got companies coming in to run tasters this week too,” says Saleem.

“We’re also running special offers to tempt the customers and get them in the spirit.”

“Ramadan is a great time to make customers happy and feel wanted. We get lots of new customers coming in at Ramadan and, with the right service and range, you can get them to come back.”