Dubai: Events and promotions in Dubai are a lifeline for retailers during the summer months when business is slow. But this year the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS), a prime promotions initiative, is offering its shortest edition yet as Ramadan coincides with August.
"DSS helps boost sales during the summer months although the promotion period is now restricted to just about a month with the fasting month of Ramadan arriving earlier this year. These are the impediments," said Neelesh Bhatnagar, Director of Oasis Centre.
The shorter edition of DSS is likely to cause a gap in sales for retailers as they miss out on the extra weeks of promotions.
"It will affect overall sales due to this and the advent of Ramadan soon after," said Bhatnagar, adding that promotions and activities throughout the summer should make up for this expected sales gap.
With Ramadan falling in Aug-ust this year, the tourism season is also shrinking, according to some travel companies.
"It will shrink the season into one month and holidays will be short," said Gassan Aridi, Chief Executive of Alpha Tours, adding that there will be fewer incoming tourists.
Some retailers though are looking at positive outcomes.
"A sales period of four to five months is more than enough. No retailer wants to extend more than that because it is more merchandise for a discounted price. You can't launch the new season with discounted prices," said Govind Bharwani, President of the Apparel Group.
The shorter promotional period will force retailers to make the most of the season and step up their efforts to attract customers with real deals.
"A crisper and shorter DSS means more focused and aggressive blitz," said Baiju Kurieash, Managing Director and Chief Executive of BUZ Management, which manages the Dubai Shopping Malls Group.
Despite this season's challenges, DSS is a key promotional initiative that helps retailers during the traditional summer lull by attracting tourists and residents to the shopping malls.
"DSS does help us fill the gap in sales and footfalls which one would expect to witness in the summer months, helping us maintain a certain momentum in terms of sales," said Vipen Sethi, CEO of Landmark Group. "Due to its timing, it helps us run holiday shopping promotions aimed at the local population and other unique promotions for tourists."
"They are especially important considering that it coincides with consumers shopping before they travel on holiday, provides a shopping window for residents not travelling, and summer tourists to the UAE," said Nadeem Khanzadah, DGM of Retail at Jumbo Electronics.
DSS is expected to boost retail sales and footfall by up to 20 per cent year on year, he added.
Apparel Group, which includes Aldo, Nine West and 35 other brands, is expecting an increase of 8 to 12 per cent in sales and footfall in the stores, according to Bharwani.
GCC visitors to Dubai, the main target market for DSS, are expected to grow by 20 per cent this summer especially since tourists will divert to Dubai rather than countries experiencing political upheaval in the Middle East, said Aridi.
This diversion of tourists to Dubai can see the retail sector grow by 10 to 15 per cent, said Kurieash. "Dubai is always ready for business, this readiness comes in handy for businesses to take advantage of the international situation, as and when it arises."
Bharwani said there was a significant number of Chinese and Russian shoppers in Dubai in the summer on the prowl for mid-level and luxury brands but that DSS also attracts shoppers from Iran, India, Pakistan, the UK and GCC.
"DSS has grown into being the second-best shopping season in Dubai. However, the challenge will be as to how much it will cater to a changing profile of tourists in terms of affordable shopping," said Bhatnagar.
Many retailers are targeting expats scurrying to shop for gifts for loved ones back home before they travel.
"A lot of shopping happens pre-vacation and DSS provides the perfect platform to offer great promotions to consumers," said Khanzadah, adding that Jumbo Electronics will double its marketing spend this year.
As part of its "Summer in Dubai" campaign, Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment is launching campaigns called Ramadan in Dubai and Eid in Dubai.
"Traditionally, the first two weeks of Ramadan are slow in terms of sales, which will make a dent on our business this year. But DSS is clubbed with promotional campaigns for Ramadan and Eid in Dubai, making it a long duration to offer unique promotions on our brands to shoppers," said Sethi.