Dubai creates overnight changes that one expects to see in a decade in other cities.
While the first decade of the millennium saw the expansion of communities and more malls, the transformation of existing neighbourhoods was the priority in the last decade. Making its residents stay longer and creating a sustained way of living is the latest push.
Life in the city is the new push
With more consumer behaviors set to change in a pandemic-ridden third decade, it is a whole new situation. One can’t help but wonder if this has left planners enough time to forecast any new emerging trends and plan for it holistically.
The city dwellers move around less these days compared with pre COVID–19 days – mall visits are relatively infrequent. The 5.8 million square metre of retail real estate - the third largest per capita retail space in the world - is recording a staggered footfall.
Who knows, the psycho-graphy and demographic mix might alter too. Some of the international chains have already relooked at their business model and discontinued physical retail operations in the region, and not just in Dubai.
With the changing behavior, the government’s timely introduction of Dubai digital strategy is a right step. The expectation is to double the ecommerce contribution to the economy. Needless to mention, this will add pressure on traditional retail to find new ways to reach out to customers.
This means big change in terms of harvesting data-intelligence, algorithms and dynamic decision making on stock keeping, pricing, etc., as these become essential aspects. There will be an evolving population mix in the city, with the government offering more incentives for qualified people to live in the UAE.
This will add to new growth and change the way these people look at the city from a career-transit perspective to settling down for a longer stint. Healthcare, housing communities, travel and retail are bound to have long-term benefits.
Sense of community
The traditional souq locations of Dubai are being upgraded on infrastructure and community spaces, making it more accessible for all to experience. Developed as a self-contained greater community, each such development is reimagined to offer almost all services within the vicinity.
These steps will help Dubai even further in evolving as an example for future cities of the world focus on hyper-communities. An increasing number of people are now moving to such well-organized communities. Dubai Hills is a perfect example, where residents find an ever-growing sophistication adapted to its infrastructure. The demand for owning or renting in the Hills community during this COVID-19 season is one example how people are considering an expanded set of priorities.
A visit to a mall is even more purpose-driven and infrequent as most needs are met through alternative means such as online or neighborhood shops. More time within the community and its facilities are here to stay. Hyper communities are becoming even more important.
It is not preposterous to suggest that retailers should learn to use their data and algorithm based on demand, stock, and competitive data to offer dynamic pricing in all formats of retail, both online and offline. A dynamic way of pricing will help introduce optimal price adjustments to overcome marketing bottlenecks, through personalized pricing and other tactical discounts based on data. Even government services, health facilities and other public services should now be reimagined to make way and be guided by future trends.
Businesses that depend on community should be taking notice, as this is the time to add a new layer of retail. Dubai is future-ready, and there are essential ingredients in place for the city to look forward to more success.