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Christmas in the Middle East

  • Kawthar Ali
  • December 17, 2019

Christmas is one of the most important seasons and celebrations in many countries globally, especially when it comes to the shopping arena. However, in the MENA region, Christmas takes up more of a festive nature, which can sound counter-intuitive since the holiday and Christmas season are supposed to warrant a peak in shopping activity just like other seasons (November for instance). But yes, our research shows that this was not the case in the MENA region after all! 

 

  • Christmas shopping trends comprise of mostly travel bookings 

According to many statistics, while Christmas does experience some kind of shopping traffic in the Middle East, travel bookings experience the highest peaks during this season. As the figure below shows, travel bookings are at their peak from the beginning of December, the month of Christmas.

If this is an indicator of something, then it is an indicator of the expat market seeking to visit their homes during the holiday season, as well as Arab consumers who travel for leisure during the holidays. 

 

  • On-the-ground shopping rather than online

Christmas is all about getting into the holiday spirit and spending time with family and friends. When researching about certain products or shopping during Christmas in general in the MENA region, most consumers prefer to go to different bazaars that are conducted during the season only. Most of the purchased products comprise of clothing, books, perfumes, and technology products. 

This means that normal on-the-ground shopping is preferred usually to online shopping, with friends and family members sharing the experiences physically together.  

 

  • In the MENA Region, it is about where to celebrate the day

When we researched about the behaviour of consumers during the holiday season, we discovered that consumers look for restaurants and places to dine in mostly on Christmas. 

Most independent restaurants and those in hotels start offering deals on Christmas brunches, breakfasts, desserts and much more than that, just like many other Middle Eastern celebrations.

 

  • From ArabyAds’ data in 2018, November witnesses a higher peak

When we analyzed in ArabyAds some data concerning revenue from ecommerce shopping during the year of 2018, we noticed that there was a drop of 40.3% in sales in December as compared to November. 

While there remained a small peak since consumers were still hyped after the Black Friday season, such a drop reassured us that December is not really “a season” the MENA region as many would normally think (To know more about ArabyAds, click here).

All in all, Christmas in the Middle East hasn’t become a season yet for the Arab consumer, but maybe in the coming years it will be; no one knows! 

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