Groceries in Dubai are being encouraged to improve their facilities as part of uniform rules. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Grocery owners in Dubai who have renovated their shops to sport a new look based on new regulations have reported positive feedback in the form of sales and customer experience.

The new criteria for licensing groceries in the emirate were announced by the Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) sector in the Department of Economic Development in 2016. They have urged all grocery stores in Dubai to integrate the new standards before the end of 2018. The initiative aims to have a uniform identity for all grocery stores in line with international standards.

The same scheme was implemented in Abu Dhabi under the “baqala” (corner store) system nearly five years ago.

The new criteria stipulates new shop exterior and interior, including a unified signage with green foreground, red, dark green, and black logo and the name “grocery” displayed in large and the business identity taking a smaller spot. Storage was slotted in the ceiling area inside the shop area and shelving space and height were standardised in addition to additional fittings and lighting.

There are more than 2,800 groceries in Dubai from 2015 and the numbers continue to grow.

Abdul Nasser from India, who recently complied with the new standard said he was pleased with his store’s “brand new” look.

“The signage is different, the glass, everything, including the shelf is different. I feel very comfortable inside the shop now. It’s not as congested as before,” said Nasser who has been operating his grocery in Karama for the past decade.

Nasser said the recommended spacing between shelves (not less than 850mm) is also beneficial to shopkeepers, and especially to customers.

“I can walk in the aisle now and restock without hitting anyone or anything. I’ve also noticed that customers feel more comfortable now when shopping. They can take their time to look at the products available as if they’re shopping in bigger supermarkets,” he said.

Basheer C.P, who also owns and manages a grocery in Karama, said he has witnessed better sales since changes in his shop were made.

“I am happy and my customers are happy because everything is visually appealing. Before there was not enough space for everything. Now it looks like a proper supermarket. My sales are a little better now, maybe by 10 per cent,” he said.

For Shaikh Rafi Ulla, a regular customer at Basheer’s grocery, the efficient use of space in the shop is what made it more appealing.

“Before, whenever I would come here, the shopkeeper had to come with me to help me locate stuff. I’m happy because now it’s easier to find the stuff I need. The shop also looks clean and it’s not dark anymore,” Ulla told Gulf News.

However, a shop owner in a freehold community, who recently changed signage as per the new standard, said he has not seen any major change in sales or consumer behaviour.

Some shop owners feel financing the renovation could become a financial burden if not planned properly. Nasser and Basheer said they had to pay between Dh57,000 and Dh65,000 for the same. But it could be done through careful planning.

“As soon as I learnt about the new regulation 18 months ago, I saved money for a few months so I would have funds once the renovation started. Otherwise, I would not be able to go for it in one go,” Nasser said.

New standards

■ Unified signage with green foreground, red, dark green, and black logo.

■ The name ‘grocery’ displayed more prominently than the business identity. 

■ Storage slotted in ceiling area.

■ Shelving space standardised 

■ Additional fittings and lighting stipulated.