Dubai: As the sun set on Dubai’s 24-hour Eid shopping experience on the weekend, Gulf News did a check on malls in the city to find out how retailers who introduced the concept had fared.
Malls that signed up for the round-the-clock shopping extravaganza saw restaurants, coffee shops and cinemas drawing customers in their hundreds into the early hours of the morning, but it was slow going for retailers in comparison.
Malls across Dubai remained open for over 60 consecutive hours each weekend for the last three weeks and while people could be seen flocking to eateries past midnight, many retail employees were left to pore over inventories and reorganise their stocks in relative silence.
Retailers found the new concept challenging and tried to lure shoppers with special night discounts.
Heading down to Dubai Mall on Thursday night, there were scores of teenagers and families, particularly next to the fountains and the ground floor strolling leisurely or queuing up at restaurants at 1am as if it were a normal working day.
However, on approaching other shops, it was rather quiet. Retail staff were also quick to point out that the majority of customers would have already finished their shopping during the Eid weekend and that the only customers they were likely to receive were window shoppers.
“This is my first night shift and while I heard last week from my colleagues that people still shopped throughout the night, it becomes very quiet from 3-4am all the way until about 8am. This weekend has definitely been a lot quieter a lot earlier,” said Cristina, who works at a women’s clothes shop.
As the night dragged on, the small number of shoppers had dwindled to the odd one, and retail employees busied themselves checking inventories and reorganising stocks.
“People were shopping until 3am during the Eid weekend and while there were 100 customers at any given time inside the shop now there are barely 10. People then start coming in again at 9am and, in the meantime, I’ll drink coffee in the staff room and tidy up the clothes racks,” said Benedict, who works at a fashion clothing store catering to men and women.
“Last week we had a large rush because there were mostly tourists who came here for the Eid holiday. But now that they’ve done their shopping, this weekend does not look good at all and it has been very quiet since midnight, which I expect to last until 10am,” said Sanjeev, an employee at a shoe shop.
On the other side of the city, at Mirdif City Centre, the lack of shoppers could instantly be felt across the mall’s corridors. While there were significantly less people at coffee shops, it became a challenge to find customers shopping in retail outlets after 2am.
“Until midnight there were two to three women every hour but after that, I am not expecting any customers until 10am,” said Emad Al Deen, who works at an abaya shop.
Bookshops in particular struggled to make sales throughout the graveyard shift. One book store makes Dh7,000 on an average day but it made less than Dh125 during the night shift last week during Eid.
“People are only going out at night either to eat or watch films in the cinema and nobody’s really interested in shopping, and I don’t receive any customers after 2am. During the Eid night shift, I made Dh6,000 which is nothing because during regular working hours in the weekend from 4-10pm, I make an average of Dh40,000,” said Rakan, an employee at a cosmetics store.
Speaking of the 24-hour shopping experience making a return next year, another clothing store worker said: “I think if we did it again next year, people would be more used to it as word spreads and you would probably find more customers; it just takes a little time for a new idea to sink in and become more of a habit.”