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Summer sales continue to be strong pull for Dubai tourism

The first few weeks of Dubai Summer Sale have been a huge success — official

Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
People shopping during the DSS 2017 at a mall in Dubai. Shopping malls have seen an increase in footfalls in the first two weekends of DSS.
Gulf News

Dubai: With Ramadan moving forward by two weeks, this year’s Dubai Summer Sale (DSS) falls at an awkward time when many people are out of the country on holiday. Despite this, the DSS has had a strong start, according to a senior government official handling the retail sector.

This year’s DSS, a six-week sale offering discounts of up to 75 per cent across Dubai’s malls, began on July 1, straight after Ramadan ended, a time that many people tend to take off for their summer holiday.

“I’ve always wondered what is going to happen. The only way to know is to talk to the shopping malls, and know what the impact of the summer has been on them,” said Saeed Al Falasi, Executive Director for Retail at Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment -‎Dubai Tourism, in an interview last week with Gulf News.

“So initially, after two weeks, we sat down with the malls. Majid Al Futtaim have [seen] an increase in footfalls … Definitely, the first two weekends of DSS have been quite strong for them,” Al Falasi said, adding that the same was true for Dubai Festival City.

A true picture emerging

In terms of sales data, Al Falasi will have to wait before he knows just how successful the summer sale initiative has been. Usually the data comes in after the month is over, when the retailers will share their numbers with the malls, and they can then share the numbers in terms of spend with the government authority.

Al Falasi’s concern was that for certain brands, presumably the higher end ones (which will also go on sale during DSS), “their clientele would travel in the summer and do their shopping elsewhere.”

But the senior official seems comfortable, two weeks in, that this year’s DSS will be another success.

“During our discussions with the retailers for DSS, one of the first questions that we ask is: ‘How has it been? Is it good? Can we do a bit more?’,” Al Falasi said.

“Most of the feedback we have got is that the retailers are quite happy that this DSS has not only maintained the success that we had last year, but we have also seen an uptrend in people looking to buy things during this sale,” he added.

One thing that may be working in the malls’ favour is Eid Al-Adha, the celebration that will kick off at the end of August. People traditionally buy gifts for family members ahead of this festival, and Al Falasi believes this might be an important variable [as DSS runs until August 12].

“A lot of people tend to buy gifts to prepare for that, so it’s a very unique situation. Every year, Ramadan moves by two weeks, and every year it throws us a new challenge. But so far, it’s been quite good, which we are happy to hear from retailers,” he said.

Fuad Mansoor Sharaf, Managing Director for Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Shopping Malls (UAE, Bahrain & Oman), said in a statement to Gulf News: “DSS has been a resounding success so far for our six shopping and lifestyle destinations in Dubai, with positive feedback from our retail partners and customers. We have witnessed robust increases in visitation as a result of our innovative customer experiences from incredible promotions and winning opportunities to tailor-made exclusive activations and family entertainment. We look forward to creating more great moments for everyone, everyday throughout DSS.”

The conglomerate’s portfolio includes the Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Deira, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Me’aisem, City Centre Al Shindagha and My City Centre Al Barsha.

Going international

Running from July 1 to August 12, the DSS is just one of Dubai Festival and Retail Establishment’s many retail initiatives throughout the year.

In May it held the first of two annual three-day sales, with discounts of up to 90 per cent.

According to the authority, there was a 30 per cent increase in footfall across malls, and a 40 per cent increase in average spend, on the weekend of the sale.

Al Falasi said it was such a success that the car parks in some malls became congested, and he was hoping to work more closely with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) for the second sale in December to solve this issue.

Other shopping festivals Dubai promotes include the Dubai Shopping Festival, the Chinese New Year and Diwali.

“Our major festivals are very linked internationally, so we need to attract as many people to come to them. We use retail as a vehicle to increase the number of tourists that come in to Dubai,” Al Falasi said.

The last weekend of the DSS falls just before India’s and Pakistan’s national days, a holiday for the two nations, so, according to Al Falasi, “Dubai has been pushing its messaging in India and Pakistan to make sure that we capture the grand finale of the DSS and make the most of the deals in Dubai at that time.”

“We are opportunists,” he said, adding, “this is what puts us in the lead.”