Retailers are upping the ante for this year's Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), with increased marketing and bigger bargains designed to bring in budget-conscious shoppers. The consumer electronics specialists Eros Group and Jumbo Electronics are spending double the amount they allocated last year on marketing and promotions to attract shoppers. JP Nambiar, the head of retail for Jumbo, expects this year's DSF, which starts tomorrow, to be an improvement on last year's. "We really expect business to spike up during this time," Mr Nambiar says.
"In terms of percentage growth, we see 30 to 35 per cent sales growth over a normal month. DSF is a very important event for us." Deepak Babani, the chief executive of Eros Group, said last month's retail sales figures showed consumers were still wary. "We saw that from May of last year, until December, confidence levels were going up on a month-to-month basis," Mr Babani says. "But come December, after Dubai World, people have become a little bit cautious."
Eros Group has more promotional offers this year, and has lifted its spending on marketing. "If you asked me in November how does the festival look, I would say 'Great'," Mr Babani says. "But if you ask me today I would look at it with a little bit of caution. Yes, sales are going to go up, but how much it is going to go up is something we need to see." Indications from the emirate's hotels are positive. The Rotana Group, which has more than 3,300 rooms across 11 hotels in Dubai, is predicting 100 per cent occupancy during the DSF.
"We can feel the recovery and indeed we are very optimistic for 2010," said Naeem Darkazally, the area director of sales and marketing for Rotana Dubai and Northern Emirates. The Tamani Hotel Marina, a Sharia-compliant hotel in Dubai Marina, is expecting occupancy rates of between 93 and 95 per cent during the festival. Muin Serhan, the hotel's general manager, said the DSF coincides this year with school holidays in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which has boosted bookings.
"This shopping festival came at the right time," Mr Serhan says. "We're expecting higher occupancies than last year." Amit Dhamani, the chief executive of Dhamani Jewellers, says one positive effect of the economic downturn is cheaper air travel and lower hotel rates. He said visitors can now stay at a five-star hotel, when it might have been out of their range two years ago. @Email:email@example.com