All round the world an upsurge is generally seen in retail sales, tourism and flights during major holiday seasons. The UAE is no exception. However, in such a multi-cultural environment where people of so many nationalities reside together – which season sees the most spending?
Spends higher in the summer in the UAE
60 percent of MENA residents admit to spending the highest during the summer months of Ramadan. This figure not only includes Arab nationals, but also Western and Asian expats who may not fast or indulge in the celebrations and feasts, but do cash in on the big sales and deals that come out during this time of the year. This year alone in June and July, Network International (which processes more than half of all card payments across the UAE) posted an increase of 14 percent in debit and credit card transactions. While restaurants appeared to be the biggest beneficiaries of the Ramadan spending, supermarkets and fashion retailers saw their sales rise as well.
38 year old Dubai resident Aaliya agrees, “I’m a mother of four and our spending rises the most during Ramadan whether it is on food or clothes for Eid. I personally like to save money during the winter to be able to splurge during the summer.” According to a recent survey by Yougov, 57 percent of the residents who participated said they saved money throughout the year to spend during Ramadan and Eid.
Check out what people are up to and what they do differently during Ramadan.
Other holiday seasons are not too far behind
Flight providers such as Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, Emirates and Etihad Airways see a good upsurge in sales during Diwali, owing to the high majority of NRI’s (non resident Indians) living in the UAE who fly back home for the festival. Another sector – gold also usually sees a growth. Gold merchants and the Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group (DGJG) report that Diwali is the top season for them with almost a 30 percent increase in sales during the festival.
Christmas and New Year’s of course is another time you see an upsurge in spending, with the growing number of western expats residing here. In a monthly spending trend analysis conducted by Citbank UAE from 2012 to 2014, travel related spends of UAE card holders reached its peak in December and January.
Plan your seasonal spend
Whether you spend higher during summer – when the attractive Ramadan promotions are out, or you splurge during winter for Diwali and Christmas – planning your seasons can help you manage your finances better. We put together a few tips and tricks:
- Know your expenses: The first step is to record all your monthly expenses – from that morning coffee to the rent bill. Keep a notebook or download a mobile app such as Toshl finance. Recording your expenses will give you a clear idea of what you can cut down so that you can save more for the upcoming season.
- Follow the 30-day rule: Have trouble controlling your impulses when it comes to shopping? You could try the 30 day rule: when you get the urge to splurge, instead of buying the product immediately write down it’s details on a piece of paper. Read this everyday for 30 days. After this time frame, if you still find yourself wanting to buy it, go ahead.
- Set your budget: Now that you know how much of your income you are spending, you can decide how to allocate the remaining money. A good idea would to be to first write down the things you want to spend on and the timelines: Car during the Eid sales? Family vacation around New Year? Now that you have your goals in sight you can start saving for it every month. Also, don’t forget to put aside a good percentage of your income towards long term savings!
- Snap up those offers: Your spending goals for the year are set. Now how can you maximize the value you get for your money while you spend? Simple. Watch out for offers related to your goals. If you want to travel, look for early bird flight deals and flash sales. Also take advantage of credit cards with travel rewards and start putting your spends on them to earn air miles. If you want to shop, look for a good cashback credit card.
- Save on transportation: With the fuel price hike this August, you might want to consider an alternative way for transportation. Using public transport may not only be easier on your wallet but it’s also great for the environment. Or you could talk to your friends and family and start car pooling during shopping trips.