Oman


Shoppers urged to swap international expat chains for Omani stores


A view of Muttrah Souq for illustrative purpose only. Photo - com4tablydumb via Flickr.com under Creative Commons License

Muscat: A campaign to encourage shoppers to return to smaller Omani-run markets and stores has been launched to ensure their survival.

The social media campaign was launched less than a week ago to support Omanis nationwide who own and run small and medium-sized shops.

The move aims at encouraging shoppers to consider a more traditional alternative to the major, mostly internationally-run, hypermarket chains, which are an ever-present threat to the livelihoods of small businesses.

The campaign started in the wilayat of Nizwa and then spread to other wilayats.

Ahmed Al Hinai, one of the organisers, said that there has been a huge response from Omanis on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and the WhatsApp application to support Omanis who own shops nationwide.

It aims to foster trust in consumers about Omani shops. "We listed 93 shops that are owned by Omanis nationwide starting from Nizwa to Salalah," said Al Hinai.

One Nizwa resident, Mohammed Al Busaidi, said that there was a huge influx into Omani shops for the first time just hours after the campaign was launched.

An Omani shop owner in Nizwa, Ahmed Al Esmili, said most stores have had to refill their shelves with supplies to meet the increased demands from citizens.

Most of the residents in the wilayat of Nizwa bought their monthly ration for Ramadan from the small shops in the wilayat, with some expressing solidarity with citizens who went on strike in the Lulu Hypermarket, said Al Hinai.

Organisers now hope that others will follow suit of the residents of the wilayat of Nizwa in supporting other Omanis.

There are also increasingly demands to buy foodstuff and other accessories from Omani owned and run shops in the wilayat of Bahla and Ibri, said organisers.

For example, in Ibri, residents have flocked to five shops for foodstuff and other accessories since the drive was launched.

Omanis hail campaign
Ahmed Al Gahfri, a shop owner in Ibri, told Times of Oman, that when residents heard about the campaign, his shop and other shops in Ibri, saw an increase in profits. 

In many countries, smaller stores have struggled to survive  due to the hypermarkets, but observers say support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) would keep more money within the Omani economy.

Al Hinai said the next challenge is to target elders by such campaigns since they have no social media means like Facebook and Twitter.

"We are working on that by asking everyone to advise their family to buy from Omani shops," says Al Hinai.

To get in touch: fahad@timesofoman.com

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