Business | Retail

Business brisk for Dubai's 'fright night'

Costume makers, candy stores, pubs and restaurants set for Halloween

  • By Aya Lowe, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 October 29, 1950
  • Gulf News

A shopper is checking out Halloween collections at at a shop in Sharjah
  • Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • A shopper is checking out Halloween collections at at a shop in Sharjah.

Dubai: Costume makers and candy stores have been enjoying brisk sales and higher customer footfall in the run-up to Halloween.

Durria, owner of Zeena Tailors, had to start turning away customers as they can no longer squeeze in new orders.

"We've had many walk-in customers; about 50 to 60 people in total have been coming to us more than a month before Halloween asking us to make costumes for them. Now I have too many so I've stopped taking bookings," said Durria.

She said costume designs vary — from witches to princesses — with customers willing to part with Dh400 to Dh500 just to make them stand out on "fright night".

Jayne Eastland, managing director of Mr Ben's Costume Closet, said sales started picking up at the end of September.

"Now it's gotten so busy we are getting new stock in every day," she said.

According to Eastland the early customers are mostly children buying costumes for school events.

Mad rush

In the two weeks before Halloween, it's the grown-ups' time to make a mad rush to the costume shops. Adults make up 70 per cent of Mr Ben's customer base.

"Pumpkins, capes, witches and ghouls outfits are the biggest things that sell for kids. They generally want the scary stuff while parents go for the more subtle costumes," Eastland said.

Eastland said costume rentals top their sales during this period.

"During the downturn, our sales of costumes were not affected. People always want to have fun," said Eastland.

Supermarket outlets such as Al Maya have stocked up on Halloween costumes, accessories and goodies and decorated their outlets in Western expat dominated communities.

"In our branches in Marina and JBR [Jumeirah Beach Residence] which cater mainly to a Western expat neighbourhood, we have set up Halloween decorations and imported a lot of Halloween merchandise from the US and UK," said Kamal Vachani, director of Al Maya Supermarket.

In the months prior to the festival, Al Maya has stocked up on costumes, pumpkins and chocolates and increased its marketing for the festival.

"This year we've seen a big increase in sales of drinks, costumes and pumpkins. More sales compared to last year," Vachani said.

Confectionery stores have also benefitted from the festival.

The recently opened Candelite! has started offering Halloween themed sweets in their eight retail sections which include classic delights, kiddie delights and funky delights.

"The stores have been receiving numerous requests for festive hampers of candy and confectioneries since the beginning of October," said Jani Viswanath, head of business at Candelite!

"This will be Candelite!'s first Halloween with the concept having been launched only in August. Our advertising campaigns reflect or focus on reaching out to people of all age groups and nationalities. For the most, Candelite! has been print- and radio-focused since we find these media very effective. At the same time, we are looking keenly into exploring more unconventional and clutter-breaking means of branding and promotions," he added.

Better year

A number of food and beverage outlets are also preparing for a better year.

"Halloween is always very popular at the Irish Village. This year we're busy, expecting around 1,500 people," said Elise Sarkis-Talj, PR and Marketing Manager for The Aviation Club.

"In general, last year wasn't a quiet business year for F&B [food and beverages] outlets. This year is going to be better. People need to have fun. There is enough gloom in the work world," she added.

Unlike other venues, the Aviation Club is hosting a Halloween party on the night on Monday.

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