GMG, one of the Middle East's leading family-owned holding companies, has revealed a surge in sports purchases across its retail stores and ecommerce platforms during Ramadan this year. Mohammad A. Baker, Deputy Chairman and CEO of GMG, notes that the Ramadan spike follows several quarters of positive gains as the Gulf’s retail market makes steady progress in its recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Combined sales from the retail and online stores within GMG’s sports division grew by 25% in Ramadan 2021 as compared to the same period prior to COVID-19. GMG Sports’ ecommerce platforms also reported a 200% growth in sales during Ramadan as compared to the previous month, primarily driven by purchases of training, and running footwear. Bolstered by the recently revamped omnichannel offering, GMG Sports’ online stores reported a 92% rise in sales compared to the same period last year.
GMG Sports is currently the largest sports retailer in the MENA region with an international footprint of over 550 sports retail stores, including homegrown brands such as Sun and Sand Sports, as well as being a distributor for global brands like Nike, Columbia, Timberland, Vans, and more. Earlier this year, GMG deployed an expanded omnichannel ecosystem to enhance customers’ accessibility to leading sports brands through digital and mobile-commerce platforms.
During the month of Ramadan, the company’s offerings within the running, and training segments proved particularly attractive to Gulf consumers, followed by fitness equipment, cycling, and supporting accessories, including at-home products such as cross trainers, exercise bikes, rowing machines, and treadmills. Sales in the cycling category alone grew by over 150% year-on-year. There has also been a surge in demand for products related to yoga, and resistance training that has contributed to the overall growth.
These purchasing trends have been motivated in part by people re-evaluating their health and fitness goals in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Baker. Evidence suggests that more and more people have started to integrate fitness routines into their daily lives.
A recent study by Fitbit revealed that 55% of respondents in markets like the UAE are prioritizing their personal health now more than ever in light of COVID-19, with 66% experiencing a positive change in their personal health throughout the pandemic with the development of healthier personal habits and behaviors1. In a separate Euromonitor “Voice of the Industry” survey, 70% of respondents believed that consumer attitudes towards purchasing health and well-being products will have a mid- to permanent change, accelerating the health-conscious economy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic2.
“Well-being is at the core of our business at GMG,” comments Baker. “The rise in sales of fitness-related products this Ramadan is a testament not only to our strong offerings in this space, but a positive indicator of how local communities are prioritizing their wellbeing right now.”
In addition to the sports division, GMG has a growing presence in healthcare, food, logistics, and other areas. Across the group, it has introduced more than 90 international brands into the Middle East to date.