The UAE’s retailers are expecting a big boost in sales over Eid Al Fitr, with some already reporting record figures as the holiday nears, while Eid sales and promotions are also contributing to an ebullient retail sector.
“In the last two days our sales have been up 400 per cent compared to the same period last year,” said Hamdi Kulahcioglu, the general manager of Tryano, the department store in Yas Mall.
He said the sales bonanza began at the end of last week as the gifting period took hold in the capital.
“The time of year, before this Eid holiday, is often the most vibrant. There are many factors contributing to the uptick. The timing of Eid this year means many families are planning to leave for the summer break and buying before they travel, others are buying for the Eid holiday.”
The 24-hour sale planned by Yas Mall for June 25 and 26 is also likely to be a traffic generator creating a rise in footfall and fuelling retailers’ optimism, he said.
The country’s retailers have faced a challenging year as the oil price has stubbornly hovered around US$50 per barrel. This has caused job layoffs across the energy, banking and finance sectors creating job insecurity in the wider employment arena, fuelling exacerbating consumer uncertainty.
The strong dollar, making the UAE an expensive destination for many of its key tourist markets, has also affected tourist’s spending patterns. While the past 12 months have proved chastening for retailers used to double-digit sales increases, Ramadan has proven to be a fruitful period for online and offline merchants.
“We have seen a large rise in traffic during the Ramadan period,” said Ulugbek Yuldashev, the founder and chief executive of Awok.com, a Dubai-based online electronics retailer.
He said the holy month had shown an increase in sales of more than 30 per cent compared with usual sales up on usual monthly figures, with sales highest during the Iftaar and Suhoor periods.
“Eid is a time when we see a surge in sales since people want to buy gifting items for one another. We see an increase of sales between 20 to 30 per cent compared to the normal days,” Mr Yuldashev said. “During Eid we are offering products with up to 99 per cent discount across various categories that include home appliances, mobile, electronics and fashion products.”
The Eid holiday is likely to provide an economic boost for retail, including food and beverage (F&B). The dining and drinking segment has been under the same pressures as the wider retail market, with the weight of outlets – increasing by 3 per cent to 4 per cent a year, according to Euromonitor International – adding to the sector’s woes.
“We expect a 25 per cent jump in our takings over the Eid holiday,” said Elena Weber, a co-founder and the managing director of Icons café, which is opening its eighth outlet in the UAE this year. “We have adapted our menu to ensure custom stays strong but the summer and Ramadan can be hard on cafe’s with outdoor space.
She said: “We have found Eid to be a consistently strong holiday and see no reason for this year to change.”