Business booms for shops during Eid

Some retailers report record sales with jewellery, toys and coffee table books proving the most popular holiday gift items.

Oct 1, 2008 / Abu Dhabi / Shoppers converge on Marina Mall during the Eid holiday October 1, 2008. (Sammy Dallal / The National) 

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ABU DHABI // Shoppers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have spent more during Eid al Fitr this year than in 2007, shop owners have said, with some reports showing record sales in both cities. Longer shopping hours have helped, according to workers, as people look for the gifts traditionally handed out during Eid. Shopping has long been an Eid tradition, something families tend to enjoy together in the evenings.

At Abu Dhabi's Al Wahda Mall, managers, cashiers and store owners said that this year was much more profitable than last, though they said it was too early to put exact figures on profits and the number of shoppers. Jewellery stores traditionally do very well during Eid, as jewellery - gold in particular, the price of which can increase by about 25 per cent during Eid - is a popular gift. Mohammed Ali Saad, manager of the Damas store in Al Wahda Mall, said sales were significantly higher than last year, though he added that because the mall had shorter hours last year - open only during evenings in 2007, but during day and night this year - the longer shopping day meant more shoppers and more profits for the store.

During the days, shopping centres have not been as packed as the evenings, when shop owners say their stores become so crowded it can be difficult to move from one side to the other. Josh Cesinillo, a sales representative at Magrudy's bookshop in Al Wahda Mall, said this year had seen bigger crowds and more chaos. "We have achieved our sales target for Eid," he said. "Definitely." The most popular items for shoppers included toys, coffee table books and other items that were clearly bought as gifts.

Mubarak Sultan, an employee at LuLu Hypermarket in Al Wahda Mall, said the store had also exceeded its sales targets for Eid. But the windfall also resulted in heavy traffic around shopping centres and stores overwhelmed by the throng of customers. Many shopping centres offered special Eid performances including music and dance to entertain shoppers. Dubai's Mall of the Emirates was forced to start turning people away one night during Eid when the car park filled up.

Roads were clogged, with shoppers double parking, mounting curbs and blocking in other vehicles. Many drivers emerged from the shops to find they had been issued parking tickets while they shopped. One shopper said it took him more than an hour to find a parking space - an illegal one. "After an hour I mounted a raised pavement to park. I assumed it would be okay as it was Eid and everyone else was doing the same," he said. "I was not blocking anyone in or creating a hazard. I was annoyed to find a police parking fine on my windscreen."

But heavy traffic and a lack of parking would not deter shoppers. An Abu Dhabi Mall spokesman said last week that it expected 25 to 30 per cent more customers than usual during Eid.