Customers shop at the Dubai Mall Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Dubai Mall attracted 75 million visitors in 2013, making it the most visited retail destination in the world for the third consecutive year, according to a statement from the mall’s developer Emaar Properties on Wednesday.

Dubai Mall surpassed Mall of America and Bullring Birmingham in the UK (with 40 million visitors each), Intu Trafford Centre, UK (30 million visitors), Part Dieu Lyon, France (29.4 million visitors), and West Edmonton Mall, Canada (28 million visitors), according to Emaar Properties.

Visitor numbers in Dubai Mall rose 15 per cent last year. The mall received 65 million visitors in 2012. Average monthly footfall for 2013 touched 6.25 million, or more than 200,000 per day.

Craig Plumb, head of research for the Middle East and North Africa at Jones Lang LaSalle, told Gulf News that the mall’s attractions are main drivers of footfall since many visitors don’t shop.

People visit “the Downtown area for entertainment and food and beverage rather than shopping,” Plumb said. Dubai Mall features a variety of attractions, such as KidZania and Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

Meanwhile, sales at the mall’s 1,200-plus stores grew by 26 per cent year-on-year, with sales at Fashion Avenue accounting for around 50 per cent of all luxury goods sold in Dubai, according to data from Bain and Company, a management consulting firm, as quoted by Emaar Properties. The Fashion Avenue, which features some of the world’s major brands, is expected to have an additional one million square feet, making way for 150 more brands in the mall.

Craig said that Dubai Mall’s expansion will increase the number of visitors in the long-term but it will not have an impact this year since construction work will cause disruptions.

Tourists represented the majority of Dubai Mall’s visitors last year, accounting for more than 40 per cent of total visitor numbers. Most of them came from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), China, India, Russia and Europe, according to Emaar.

Dubai has been attracting a growing number of tourists every year. In the first nine months of 2013, the emirate welcomed around 7.9 million visitors, up 9.8 per from the previous year, according to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

The emirate represents around 60 per cent of the UAE’s luxury market and 30 per cent of the Middle East market, Bain and Company data showed.

Dubai Mall has had a big impact on Dubai’s economy, according to Emaar Properties’ group CEO Abdulla Lahej.

“[Dubai Mall has] generated more than 25,000 jobs and consistently driving the growth of the city’s retail, leisure and hospitality sectors — the core contributors to Dubai’s GDP,” he said in a statement.