The UAE’s supermarkets are announcing major discounts to groceries during the coming holy month as part of a wider push by authorities to ease the pressure on stretched consumers.
The country’s Ministry of Economy confirmed plans to reduce the cost of 10,000 items in partnership with 600 outlets last month following a difficult start to the year for UAE consumers, who have had to absorb price increases following the introduction of a 5 per cent value added tax on most essentials.
Consumer price inflation dropped to 3.4 per cent in March from 4.8 per cent in February and January, its highest level since 2015.
A survey released in April by comparison site Yallacompare found many residents were less confident about their financial security than a year ago due to cost of living increases and job security concerns.
Supermarket chains responded this week with major discounts on a number of products.
Majid Al Futtaim’s Carrefour supermarket franchise said on Wednesday it would be reducing discounts of up to 70 per cent off foods products along with other offers worth more than Dhs50m ($13.6m) in savings to UAE customers until the end of Ramadan.
It is also launching two Ramadan boxes priced at Dhs100 ($27) and Dhs200 ($54) with bulk essentials.
Ramadan is “the peak grocery shopping period of the year, with many families buying food in much larger volumes than usual, including for charitable purposes,” said Carrefour UAE chief operating officer Miguel Povedano.
“This has driven us to deliver even greater value and convenience to them during the Holy Month.”
Similarly Union Coop announced a sale offering 25 to 75 percent off on 15,000 items.
“Our strategies will not only help us ease the burden on our citizens and residents, but will instill the spirit of giving and doing good as well,” the company’s CEO Khalid Humaid Bin Diban Al Falasi was quoted as saying.
Demand for commodities and food items typically soars during the holy month as families host their relatives and friends in the evening to break their fast.
This has forced authorities to crackdown on supermarkets that increase their prices to profit from the increased footfall.
The UAE has yet to announce when the holy month will begin.
Oman’s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs said on Sunday that the country would mark the beginning of Ramadan on Thursday, May 17 due to concerns the moon would not be visible nationwide on Tuesday evening the next week.
Private sector employees in the country will work just six hours a day during the holy month.
Astronomers in Kuwait and Sharjah have also indicated May 17 will be the likely start date for the month of Ramadan.
In March, Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences said Ramadan would likely fall on May 17 with Eid Al Fitr, marking the end of the month, expected on June 15.
Read: Ramadan likely to begin on May 17
Last week, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority announced shorter school hours for the holy month with students finishing classes by 1:30pm.
A similar announcement was made by the UAE Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) regarding public sector working hours. Staff will work from 9:00am to 2:00pm during the Ramadan period.