Bags of opportunity

The annual Dubai Summer Surprises is a vital driver for increasing visitor footfall and sales, and although the 2012 edition runs only a month, retailers expect better results than before

Image Credit: Corbis
GN Focus

Despite being the shortest Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) ever, this year’s edition sees malls across the emirate put together a host of competitions, workshops for children and plenty of rewards for shopaholics.

Ramadan falls towards the end of July, so this year — the 15th edition of the popular event — will run only for one month from today to July 14.

“The summer festival continues to be a focal point of our marketing initiatives and is an important driver in increasing footfall and sales in addition to building awareness of our integrated offering,” says Salem Al Ghurair, CEO, Al Ghurair Centre. He says his shopping centre witnessed a 15 per cent increase in visitors during DSS 2011 compared to the previous year. “We have partnered with DSS since its inception and have shared in its success year-on-year to reaffirm Dubai’s status as a world-class shopping destination,” he says.

Tenfold increase
Laila Mohammad Suhail, CEO of the Dubai Events and Promotion Establishment (DEPE), says, “Last year, the emirate played host to four million visitors and raked in visitor spend of nearly Dh90 billion, compared to the Dh850 million in the first edition of DSS.”

The government of Dubai launched DSS in 1998, a time when all schools in the UAE are closed and residents face a long scorching summer. The aim was to enhance the summer tourism offering and increase footfall as well as spend at the emirate’s many malls. It is a decision that has paid off well over the years.

Fuad Mansoor Sharaf, Senior Asset Director for shopping malls,  Majid Al Futtaim Properties, says that the group has been a long-standing supporter of DSS and the DEPE since the inaugural event. He says the event is a key period of trade in the retail calendar for MAF Properties’ three flagship malls in Dubai — Mall of the Emirates, Deira City Centre and Mirdif City Centre, which continue to benefit from the success of each DSS.

Seeing double
Sharaf says that over the last two summers, the three malls have seen a positive double-digit increase in both footfall and sales. “We have witnessed an increase in Chinese and Russian shoppers, who have specific preferences for luxury brands and unique gifts to bring home in recent years.

“Additionally, we have also seen an increase of visitors from within the GCC, who are attracted to Dubai’s proximity and shopping opportunities. This year, the malls are again joining hands and offering shoppers triple the chance to win,” he says. “We expect DSS 2012 to continue the positive momentum of a strong first half of the year across our three malls and expect footfall and sales to be at their highest.”

The city’s mall offerings are vast and varied, and at BurJuman, General Manager Eisa Adam Ebrahim says that every year they introduced new international acts. This year it is Alice in Wonderland, a 30-minute stage show that weaves music, song and well-choreographed dance sequences into a spell-binding circus act. The show will take place twice daily from June 21-30. Following each show will be a 15-minute meet-and-greet session. Ebrahim says that last year’s DSS was popular with UAE residents as well as regional visitors, including those from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain. “This year too, we expect tourists to make up a strong contribution to our traffic increase. On a wider scale, we had a strong draw from Asians and visitors from the UK, Russia and China,” he says. “Participating stores see positive business sales upsurge of 15-25 per cent on average and this is in line with the overall increase in mall traffic at the time.” 

Focus on folklore
From July 3-19, BurJuman will host an authentic tented Moroccan medina selling a wide range of Moroccan items including sweets, furniture, artefacts, colourful ceramics, geometric tiles, aromatic spices and herbs, henna and clothes. “Traditional folkloric entertainment is a part of the event,” says Ebrahim.

Retail outlets in The Dubai Mall also recorded considerable growth in revenues during the past summer, according to Nasser Rafi, CEO, Emaar Malls Group. “Footfalls at to the mall recorded double-digit growth in the summer of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.” Again, large visitor numbers came from the GCC region, South Asia and Europe, and Rafi is expecting a ‘robust growth in visitor arrivals and sales this summer’.

Neelesh Bhatnagar, Director, Oasis Centre, says, “With DSS falling within the European holiday period and Dubai increasingly being positioned as a safe destination for vacationing in the GCC, we can also expect to see a good crowd of tourists revelling in the festivities.”

Bhatnagar expects to see footfalls increasing by about 20 per cent this year. “The great promotional offers at our mall should result in a good 10 per cent hike in DSS retail spends. Tourism and rising household consumption are boosting the retail spends at malls in Dubai, especially during the celebratory DSS period.” 

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