PiWheel research analyses UAE’s fastest gaining & falling categories in e-commerce during Ramadan 2021

By Lina Kassem, Client Servicing & Strategy Director at Piwheel

The Holy month of Ramadan is UAE’s largest festivity celebrated all over the country. The holy month inspires a time of reflection, gratitude, and togetherness. Since last year, Ramadan had a digital twist, as it coincided with the rise of the pandemic, causing major shifts in consumer behaviour and intent and impacting how consumers shop up to this day.

What did this impact have on consumer consumption in the UAE e-commerce landscape this year?

PiWheel reviewed e-commerce sales across the UAE and compiled a list of top Growing and Declining categories during Ramadan, compared to the prior period.

Top Growing categories:

The top 5 growing categories in the UAE are Condiments & Salads Dressing, Refrigerators & Freezers, Cell Phones, Baby Accessories, and Batteries. Condiments & Salads is the best performing category, with 63% growth. With a clear uplift in online sales transactions; attributed to the shift in shopper behaviour since last year – we expect consumers to continue shopping online for certain categories in the future.

Appliances and Electronics are always a top-performing e-Commerce category in the UAE during Ramadan and Eid, as consumers tend to wait for Ramadan sales before changing or upgrading their current appliances. In fact, the Refrigerators & Freezers category had a 34% surge in sales, peaking on the first week of Ramadan.

Top Declining categories:

The top 5 declining categories in the UAE are Office Electronics, Woman’s Hair Removal, Cookware, Game Consoles, and Printers & Scanners.

With last year’s coronavirus restrictions, online sales for office equipment and home entertainment increased significantly. Now that homes are fully equipped, sales are naturally steadying, resulting in categories such as office electronics (-31%), printers & scanners (-22%), tablets (-10%), and laptops (-8%) to decrease in sales.

Other key takeaways:

While large gatherings still can’t happen this year in the UAE, family gift exchanges for Eid were still part of this year’s celebrations – seen in the online sales growth for consumer electronics (e.g. cell phones 19%) women’s shoes (+6%) and wearable technology (+5%).

The pandemic has certainly been one of the major factors for the accelerated growth in e-commerce ad spending. On top of that, Ramadan brings in its specific dynamics, being them about pricing, offers, and cultural behaviour. This year we have observed 5 top categories in UAE’s e-commerce media spend growth during Ramadan:

Men’s activewear and athletic shoes had an ad spend of +717% and 237% vs the previous month, respectively. There was also a significant increase in ad spend on food and beverages related items, like candy (+475%), nuts & seeds (+369%), and bottled beverages (+159%).

Covid-19 crisis this year still has had a significant impact on the e-commerce landscape resulting in another digital Ramadan – with online sales stronger than brick and mortar sales, a trend that started last year and likely to continue in the coming years.

Brands that developed a more robust e-commerce strategy, with the right product, pricing, content, and offer mix could grab a significant share of such growth.

Data source: Piwheel, Apr 11 – May 15, 2021, vs Mar 07 – Apr 10, 2021