Dubai Shopping Festival witnesses 2 pct fall in retail sales

A drop by 2 pct was seen in retail sales during last year's Dubai Shopping Festival as compared to the previous year in spite of the opening of new malls and estimated 2,000 participating shops.

A total of Dh9.8 billion (US$2.66bn) was spent by visitors coming to the 32-day festival, while the expenditure was Dh10bn in 2008. In data unveiled ahead of this year's event, the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE) claimed that the number of festival-goers grew 4.6 per cent to 3.35 million

The decline was defined as minimal by Laila Suhail, the DEPE chief executive, in spite of a decrease in spending figures.

The launching of the 2009 festival, held between January 15 and February 15 was done at the time when the global economic downturn had begun hitting the UAE and consumers refrained from spending.

Due to this, the organizers of the festival brought in bigger discounts, cheaper hotel packages and targeted visitors from nearby GCC countries and Asia instead of Europe.

There efforts were paid off as the number of tourists hiked five pct to 1.99 million in Q1 of 2009. As per the DTCM data, the UAE welcomed more visitors due to budget-friendly goods and hotel packages; however overall spending figures fell because of cheaper price tags.

Laurent-Patrick Gally, a retail analyst with Shuaa Capital in Dubai (CK) thinks that the figure was also helped with the addition of new shopping centres such as Dubai Mall, which opened in November 2008 with just 600 shops. The year 2009 saw 6,000 participating retailers compared with 4,000 in 2008.