Sales risk over Dubai Summer Surprises change

Retailers have given a mixed response to plans to change the Dubai Summer Surprises shopping festival.

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Retailers say changes to Dubai Summer Surprises will give the festival more impact but holding the event before Ramadan may hamper sales.
In a bid to revitalise the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) brand, the event will be cut to five weeks when it opens next month, running until the end of July. It is the second year in a row the festival has been cut back. Last year it was 51 days, compared with 64 for 2009.
"Ramadan is a big impact and usually means lower footfall," said Julie Howett, the head of merchandising at Marks & Spencer (M&S).
The move to reduce DSS is part of Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment's (DEPE) new remit to provide year-round attractions, which will include the promotion of Ramadan this year.
Although Ms Howett believes a shorter DSS will be positive for sales, M&S will not discount any products this year because the event falls before Ramadan.
The retailer is running a spring sale due to finish at the end of the month when its summer collection launches, and she said three weeks was insufficient time to sell the new collection before discounting during DSS.
M&S will start its promotions in September after the traditionally slower month of Ramadan. Retailers are not forced to offer promotions and discounts during DSS.
Gaurav Malaviya, the head of business at Plug-ins Electronix, a member of the Al-Futtaim Group's electronics division, said traffic increased by about 15 per cent during DSS and 60 per cent of sales came in the first half of the festival.
"Now DSS is shorter it will be better and more concentrated, because after two months of the same promotions people usually become blind to the offers," Mr Malaviya said.
Plug-ins does not discount products but bundles items such as cameras and MP3s to entice people to buy.
The company is predicting growth in sales at this year's DSS by 25 per cent on the back of the shorter period and expectations of more tourists holidaying in the UAE rather than other areas of the Middle East and North Africa that have experienced unrest.
Poonam Chauhan, the brand manager for Mumbai Se, a female boutique with five outlets across the UAE, said the new DSS would give the store more time to launch its next collection.
"DSS has worked really well for us in the past, because 10 weeks really helped in clearing stock," said Ms Chauhan.
"But if people are aware that it is being reduced, then hopefully people will not wait to go out and shop."
rjones@thenational.ae