Dubai: The consumer electronics market in the UAE, both offline and online, is expected to grow to Dh15.4 billion this year compared to Dh13.5 billion last year, registering a growth of more than 14 per cent, an industry expert told Gulf News.

Isam Arshad, analyst at Euromonitor International, said that offline retail market is expected to grow by more than 11 per cent this year to Dh13.4 billion compared to Dh12 billion last year while online retailing is expected to reach Dh2 billion this year compared to Dh1.5 billion a year ago, registering a growth of more than 33 per cent.

He said the year-on-year growth of consumer electronics sold through distribution channels is the fastest at 31 per cent this year compared to other offline channels, where growth remained on an average of 18 per cent year on year.

Even though the market was weak in the first two quarters due to value-added tax (VAT) and low consumer confidence, he said the market has started recovering from the third quarter. “Lots of people got salary increases in the UAE and there were a lot of successful promotional campaigns this year compared to last year,” he said.

Moreover, he said a large number of tourists are expected to pour into Dubai in the next six months till March. “Tourists will buy electronics as they can reclaim VAT now and many vendors are expecting to see a rise in footfall. People were scary when VAT was introduced but they have started getting used to it only after seven to eight months; same is the case for any country,” he said.

“We may see a small uptake in smartphones by tourists when the VAT refund for tourists happens. Mobile phones are a big-ticket item that tourists carry when they leave Dubai,” said Deepak Babani, vice-chairman of Eros Group.

However, Arshad said that smartphones have a lot of potential to grow despite not having a lot of innovation. “Most of the companies are investing in artificial intelligence while it was biometrics earlier. Even though the dual SIM phones were available in the market about seven years ago, Apple has just come out with dual SIM option (one nano SIM and one embedded SIM) but the eSIM option is not going to be available in the near future. A lot of people in the UAE travel aboard and it will be useful for them.

“TV sales have been high due to the Football World Cup. Companies are promoting TVs with 50 inches and above while people are not buying screen sizes below 50 inches,” he said.