The holy month of Ramadan is much awaited by Muslims each year. Paradoxically, it is when Muslims refrain from eating and drinking, from sunrise to sunset, that household consumption spikes.
It all begins with the supply.
Muslim families tend to stock up for the month, buying all their cooking supplies well ahead of time. When the fast is broken, tables are plentiful and numerous dishes are served.
Ramadan evenings feature traditional pastries made with almonds, hazelnuts and pistachio nuts. Due to the cost of these ingredients, preparation of the pastries requires an important investment.
In order to meet the increased needs of its citizens, the State must supply markets in advance by either increasing production or importing the necessary food items: meats, milk, eggs, soft drinks, etc…
The financial effort required from the State is thus significant in anticipation of the holy month.
Unrestrained consumption is at its peak. But even as Ramadan enables merchants to increase profits, it empties the purses of households.
Supply and demand are, in the end, not so well-balanced during the holy month. The situation reveals imperfections in the economic system, especially speculation and the monopoly on some consumer goods.
The logical consequence is that prices go up.
In spite of an active and relatively structured civil society, Tunisian consumers cannot seem to find a solution. And neither can the State, despite interventions by price control brigades.
Ramadan not only has an economic impact on consumption, but also on productivity in general, given that fasting workers perform less efficiently that they do at other times of the year.
Efficiency decreases for both manual and intellectual workers. Muslims have been doing it for centuries, however, so everyone anticipates the change.
In countries with Muslim communities, Ramadan is an economic boon. Household consumption multiplies by three, bringing joy to merchants and helping breathe life into national economies.
While Ramadan is first and foremost a religious event, it also provides a significant financial benefit to countries where fully half of the family income is spent on food.