Dubai: Malls and retailers are awaiting the go-ahead for opening hours to go back to the 10am-10pm schedule on weekdays and 10am-12am on weekends/holidays once Ramadan is over later this month.
For now – and until the authorities issue the final clearance – mall operating hours will continue to be from 12pm to 10pm.
But to be better prepared, many mall managements in Dubai have been telling their tenants to ensure they are ready to go back to the 10am-10pm schedule as soon as the clearances are given. And as and when they do open, malls will continue to operate on strict safety guidelines such as maintaining the 30 per cent limit on visitor traffic in the common areas within stores. Plus, those below 12 years and above 60 will still not be allowed.
Currently, mall operating hours are based on NCEMA (National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority) guidelines.
“Any advisory from malls changing on operating hours back to between 10am-10pm on weekdays and 10am-12 midnight on weekends after Ramadan probably assumes there are no restrictions on movement,” said Ashish Panjabi, board member at Dubai Computer Group and is Chief Commercial Officer at Jacky’s Electronics.
“But we will all wait for official advice as that takes precedence at this stage and is not something we can speculate on.”
It was from April 25 that malls and street outlets in Dubai re-opened after going through a month-long ceasing of all activity. Only a few outlets, such as supermarkets and pharmacies functioned during this period.
On re-opening, all shopping destinations had to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. Masks had to be worn at all times, and no shop could take in more than 30 per cent of visitors – as a percentage of the floor area – at any time. The same limits apply to staff operating within the stores.
Since then, shopper numbers have been subdued, with apparel and jewellery stores seeing extremely poor turnouts. Retail industry sources realise that it would be weeks and months before numbers head back to pre COVID-19 times. Plus, there is the change in individual circumstances as a result of the downturn, and which impacts on consumer spending.
Retailers are hopeful that as and when normal shopping hours are brought back, they would also be allowed to offer sales promotions. For now, no outlet or mall can offer any such promotion.
“Retail spending will need to see the return of promotions – but again, that’s something for the authorities to greenlight,” said the CEO of leading fashion-focussed network. “That will require federal level guidance and from the authorities in the individual emirates.
“But retailers remain ready to do their part once normal hours return.”