Dubai: Shopping malls in the UAE are focusing on developing their entertainment facilities as consumers are increasingly visiting malls for leisure rather than shopping, industry experts said at the London Business School-organised Retail Insights forum, held in Dubai on Wednesday.
The portion of gross leasable area (GLA) that’s dedicated to entertainment, food and beverage, and non-retail use at malls today is significantly larger than at shopping malls that were built a decade ago, according to Ahmad Galal Esmail, chief executive officer of Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Ventures, one of the business units of the Dubai-based conglomerate.
An additional 36,000 square metres of retail space is expected to enter the Dubai market this year, as per a recent report issued by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), real estate investment and advisory firm. Estimates suggest that by 2016, the market is forecast to see an additional 471,000 square metres of retail space.
Flowing with the tide, MAF is expanding the number of Vox Cinemas screens at the Mall of the Emirates (MoE) from the present 13 to 24 screens.
The company is also introducing a Vox Cinemas at Sharjah City Centre as part of its Dh200 million redevelopment project, which is expected to start in the summer.
“We are always looking at bringing new leisure attractions but it’s not always about bringing something that’s new, it’s sometimes about enhancing what you already have,” Esmail said.
Meanwhile, Dubai Mall’s expansion, which includes the addition of 1 million square feet, is expected to boost the entertainment brands at the mall.
The mall’s current entertainment options include Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink, SEGA Republic, KidZania and the 22-screen Reel Cinemas. Also, the Dubai Fountain in the waterfront promenade of the mall attracts thousands of visitors every day.
Analysing the trend, Craig Plumb, head of research for the Middle East and North Africa at JLL, told Gulf News that the mall’s attractions are the main drivers of footfall “as many visitors don’t shop.” Dubai Mall attracted 75 million visitors last year.
“A minority [of consumers at MAF’s malls] would say they come for shopping. The vast majority would say they come for a variety of reasons, [such as] family entertainment [and] sightseeing,” Esmail said.
He further points out that retailers are also turning shopping into an entertainment experience. “Customers expect a certain experience when they go out and shop,” he said.
Citing an example, Esmail said that the Hollister store at Mall of the Emirates, with a video-screen storefront, attracted several customers on the opening day.