Boom in Qatar’s food delivery culture boosts restaurant sales during Ramadan

Against the backdrop of a booming food delivery culture in Qatar, a number of catering businesses here are seeing an increase in daytime delivery sales during Ramadan to cater to non-fasting customers.
Across the region, restaurants typically experience a slowdown in business during the holy month of Ramadan. But online food deliveries, which have grown rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, are now keeping some food businesses afloat despite being closed to restaurant customers during the day.
“We have ministry approval for deliveries, that’s why we also open the restaurant during the day. But we don’t allow customers to dine before iftar. We started daytime deliveries during Ramadan in 2019 before the pandemic. But at that time, food deliveries were not yet so popular. We did not receive many delivery orders. But now, even during the day, we receive more orders to deliver. This Ramadan, we were getting an average of 40-45 daily delivery orders for this branch alone,” Nagendra Rai, restaurant manager at Papa John’s Old Airport branch told The Peninsula yesterday.
He added that on a normal day, the branch receives many more delivery orders, typically with over 400 delivery orders during weekends.
“But this time we are getting fewer delivery notes compared to Ramadan last year. This is because last year there were no dining options even in the evening due to COVID restrictions. We only received most delivery orders last year. Yet this year is better than Ramadan in previous years before the pandemic. Deliveries have now increased during the day. We didn’t have Talabat or Snoonu, and all the other delivery apps before. They’ve only grown in recent years, and they’re doing well. Thanks to them, we have more customers,” Rai added.
Speaking to The Peninsula, Doha Street Food restaurant manager Elaine Cadiente said food deliveries keep the business afloat during Ramadan. The restaurant is also open during the day only for take-out and delivery orders.
“We really need the sales of daytime delivery orders during Ramadan. We have seen our sales decrease by 10-20% compared to previous months, due to changes in schedules. So having delivery orders in the day was very useful for the company,” said Cadiente.
She added that the food delivery scene in Qatar was becoming more competitive and catering companies needed to quickly develop strategies to retain their market.
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“There is a lot of competition now with more restaurants opening in Qatar. And for Filipino restaurants like us, we are no longer just competing with other restaurants, but with other online food businesses in who also do deliveries, so it’s important to have strategies, like continuous updates on social media, promotions and sometimes lowering our prices for certain items as well,” Cadiente added.
As for Rai, the culture of food delivery is here to stay in Qatar, and it will only grow further.
“It is increasing day by day. Customers have become accustomed to the simple way of ordering food. Many just want to relax and eat at home. With just one click, they can order from aggregators, where they can see all the restaurants and choose accordingly. They can also order on our website. Before, we only had orders by phone. There were still no online orders. But now it’s very easy for customers and for us too,” he added.
The Qatari market is seeing an increasing number of delivery companies establishing their operations in the country. A report by KPMG also revealed that tech startups providing delivery services in the food and beverage sector secured the largest share of tech startup funding in Qatar in 2021.