Author: 
K.S. Ramkumar, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Sat, 2007-10-13 03:00

JEDDAH, 13 October 2007 — Eid Al-Fitr shopping reached its crescendo on Thursday night, with the official announcement of the festivity at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Hyper- and supermarkets as well as shopping malls were exceptionally crowded with families for their last-minute purchases. Unlike the month of Ramadan when shoppers mostly concentrated on food and foodstuffs, they were now seen buying Eid gifts for their near and dear ones.

Especially crowded were gift shops aside of course from outlets that were exclusively dealing in clothes and dresses for children, teenagers and adults. Gold and jewelry shops, which are usually crowded for Eid purchases, were devoid of the rush. Chocolate and perfume shops had a busy time with their visitors.

“Apparently, rising gold prices are preventing the people from making gold or jewelry purchases,” Abdul Sharif, a supervisor at the Kandara gold souk, said. “Our turnover this season has been 60 percent less than in the previous year,” he added.

In fact, shops and malls have been readying themselves with attractive “Sale” signs and colorful decors to attract Ramadan and Eid shoppers. Some of the outlets for children and women’s dresses on the upmarket Tahlia Street, which boast best of international brands, had signboards displaying discounts ranging up to 70 percent.

“Despite the offer of hefty discounts, we did not get the kind of clientele we had expected, both during Ramadan and for the Eid celebration,” said Muhammad Sais, who manages a Western branded fashionable outlet on Tahlia Street.

However, outlets in downtown Balad, Bani Malek, Bawadi and other districts that deal in textiles and garments reported “excellent” turnover. “This is the season we anxiously wait for throughout the year. And it is worth waiting for, as we make at least 35 to 40 percent of our annual business during Ramadan,” said Abdul Karim, a supervisor at Shobhra outlet in Bawadi district. “We make it a point to offer the latest and best of dresses and accessories for children and teenagers,” he added.

Perfumes and traditional attars were in great demand during the season, as also traditional food, sweets, nuts and chocolates. “We are fully geared for dozens of orders we get during the first three days of Eid,” said Kamran Mansoor, a sweet shop manager at Kababish on Prince Majed Street.

Most of the open-air markets were noisy until late Thursday night, with shoppers haggling over prices. Until a few decades ago, Saudi consumers purchased nearly all of their clothes, home furnishings and foodstuffs in open-air souqs. Today, however, most Saudis do their daily shopping in the comfort of modern, air-conditioned, multi-leveled shopping malls or gigantic supermarkets and only venture into traditional souqs for special items, such as carpets.

Jeddah and other parts of the Kingdom today boast a wide variety of shopping plazas and sophisticated malls to choose from. In Jeddah alone, there are now more than 70 modern shopping centers offering a variety of goods made both in the Kingdom and imported from the United States, Europe and the Far East. The city’s King Abdul Aziz Street in Balad and other streets in many other old shopping districts have outlets dealing in goods ranging from clothes to trinkets.

Today, many of the products sold in Saudi shops are manufactured in the Kingdom. From socks and kitchenware to chandeliers, dairy products and air-conditioners to mattresses, a wide variety of high-quality domestic products can be found. Shopping malls in the Kingdom offer not only access to a wide range of goods, but also provide a source for family entertainment. Young children can play in large, supervised play areas at the malls while their parents shop. Teenage boys like to gather with their friends in the arcades, and mothers can shop knowing their children are safely occupied.

Driving from the Corniche-end of Tahlia Street to the other, consumers in Jeddah can choose from several shopping centers and restaurants. Shoppers in search of the latest European fashions are always successful at the boutiques at shopping centers on this street.

Using bank-issued credit cards is becoming an increasingly popular way for Saudi consumers to pay for their purchases. Most shopping malls have several automated teller machines (ATMs) on their premises for those who prefer to pay in cash.

The city’s shopping malls have something for everyone, whether searching for a traditional white thobe, a dazzling piece of gold jewelry, a new TV set or mobile phone.

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