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MENA residents stay in home country, spend more during Ramadan: Survey

MENA residents stay in home country, spend more during Ramadan: Survey

Majority claim their day-to-day lifestyle remains relatively unchanged.

Published: Wed 24 Jun 2015, 5:48 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:16 PM

New study findings show the majority of residents in MENA prefer to stay in their country of residence during Ramadan and 60% spend more money, but only a small proportion defer major shopping purchases for the Ramadan sales.

The research, conducted amongst 3,288 residents in MENA to discover health, lifestyle, shopping and food habits during the holy month of Ramadan, also illustrates respondents’ lifestyles largely remain unchanged with over half claiming their lifestyle changes a little and 15% claiming it doesn’t change at all. Just a third claim it changes completely.

Health & lifestyle habits: Fasting respondents only

Considering respondents’ daily routine during Ramadan, of those who fast, unsurprisingly the majority pray more (78%). Home is the central focus, with 69% choosing to stay in their country of residence and two thirds (66%) spending more time with their family throughout the holy month.

When it comes to health and exercise, an overriding 65% of those fasting claim they don’t follow a regular exercise regime. Of those that do exercise regularly (35%) – nearly half choose to exercise less during Ramadan (34% claim they exercise less; 15% claim they stop exercising altogether).

That said, a small proportion (15%) do exercise more during Ramadan. The top reasons for increasing exercise are having more time, followed by wanting to be healthier and wanting to lose weight. The average exercise time reduces from 43 minutes outside of Ramadan, to 29 minutes during Ramadan.

When asked to express any health related problems suffered during the holy month, the highest proportion of fasting respondents claim they suffer from headaches (29%). Heart burn was the next most prevalent health problem (16%), followed by dehydration according to 13% of the sample.

However, encouragingly, nearly half (46%) claim their productivity at work is not affected.

Shopping habits: Both fasting and non-fasting respondents

Interestingly, 57% of all respondents claim they save throughout the year for Ramadan and Eid.

A similar proportion (60%) also claim they spend more during Ramadan compared to other months in the year (nearly a quarter (24%) spend a lot more; 36% spend a little more). The top purchases amongst respondents who spend more, are food and groceries (71%), followed by clothing (47%). Interestingly utility bills are the third most prevalent item respondents spend more money on during Ramadan (20%). When it comes to how respondents fund the extra expenditure, the vast majority use their personal savings (79%) and 14% use their credit card.

Despite this increase in spend, only a third (31%) claim they defer major shopping purchases in anticipation of the Ramadan sales, compared to (69%) who don’t. Of those that do defer their major shopping purchases, the highest proportion spend their money on food and groceries in the sales (60%).

Considering when respondents shop, the majority claim they shop after Iftar (33% late at night; 19% immediately after Iftar). On average respondents say they expect to visit malls twice a week during Ramadan.

Food habits: Fasting respondents only

Generally speaking, there are no drastic changes to respondents’ eating habits during Ramadan. The majority claim they eat the same amount (44%), eat the same food (49%) and maintain the same weight (57%). A minority claim they gain weight (17%), eat less healthy food (11%) or eat more (15%) during their days of fast.

Encouragingly a significant proportion of those who fast claim they find it easy to do so (62%). The most popular food and drink to have at Suhour is fruit (44%) followed by yogurt (42%). The most popular drink is water (34%) followed by juice (10%). Respondents prefer to start the day with a healthy meal before fasting with just 12% claiming they eat fast food at Suhour.

Considering fasting respondents tend to spend more time with family during Ramadan, there is no surprise, the majority prefer to break their fast at home (87%). The most popular food and drink to break their fast with is dates (60%) and water (18%).

Food habits: Both fasting and non-fasting respondents only

Ramadan restaurant deals don’t appear to be popular amongst both fasting and non-fasting respondents, with 45% claiming they won’t be using any Iftar or Suhour deals this year.

When it comes to eating out, the sample was split with just over a third equally claiming they don’t eat out more (38%), and a third claiming they do (33%). 29% claim their eating out habits don’t change at all during Ramadan.

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