Why shop­ping malls will be a key driver for growth in Dubai

Re­tail will be a key driver for growth in Dubai over the next few years, with both mega and com­mu­nity malls con­tribut­ing to the share, writes Omar Khoory

Gulf Business - - FRONT PAGE - Omar Khoory Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Nakheel Malls

DUBAI’S DRAW AS a lead­ing in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tion for re­tail con­tin­ues to grow ex­po­nen­tially. Dubai was the fourth-most pop­u­lar city in the world with a to­tal of 15.79 mil­lion tourists hav­ing vis­ited the city in 2017, ac­cord­ing to Dubai De­part­ment of Tourism and Com­merce Mar­ket­ing. Dubai Re­tail Re­view 2017 by Core Sav­ills es­ti­mates that in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors spend an av­er­age of $2,050 per overnight stay.

Mercer's 20th Qual­ity of Liv­ing Sur­vey also ranked Dubai as the best city for ex­pats in the Mid­dle East and Africa to live and work, with for­eign res­i­dents ac­count­ing for nearly 88.52 per cent of the UAE pop­u­la­tion.

Com­bined these fac­tors have con­trib­uted to a thriv­ing lo­cal re­tail land­scape. In fact, Ibn Bat­tuta Mall, Nakheel Malls' flag­ship re­tail and en­ter­tain­ment des­ti­na­tion, wit­nessed a record 21 mil­lion foot­fall in 2017, thanks to a surge in tourists, new ten­ants at the mall and the ex­pan­sion of nearby res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments.

Dubai's shop­ping malls play a huge role in draw­ing tourists ev­ery year. At­tracted by shop­ping fes­ti­vals in­clud­ing the Dubai Shop­ping Fes­ti­val and Dubai Sum­mer Sur­prises among nu­mer­ous other re­tail events each year, mil­lions of vis­i­tors make sure re­tail ther­apy is part of their itin­er­ary. Res­i­dents, mean­while, con­tinue to look for­ward to a host of deals and pro­mo­tions that ac­com­pany these ever-grow­ing an­nual fes­ti­vals, while mall devel­op­ers want to en­sure that they de­liver new and unique re­tail ex­pe­ri­ences that ex­ceed con­sumer ex­pec­ta­tions.

Dubai is a shop­per's par­adise with some of the most iconic malls in the world of­fer­ing much more than just re­tail. With restau­rants, su­per­mar­kets, banks, mul­ti­plex cine­mas, play ar­eas and a host of recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties and at­trac­tions, vis­i­tors are spoilt for choice.

As new res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties spring up in Dubai, the need for com­mu­nity malls that ser­vice these ar­eas con­tin­ues to grow. It is im­per­a­tive for mall devel­op­ers to ob­serve shop­per trends and buyer be­hav­iour to adapt their of­fer­ings.

At Nakheel Malls, we recog­nise this need and have de­vel­oped com­mu­nity malls called pavil­ions in Al Fur­jan, Dis­cov­ery Gar­dens, In­ter­na­tional City, Jumeirah Is­lands and Jumeirah Park, with more on the way at Nad Al Sheba, Al Fur­jan West and Badrah.

Mean­while, as the de­mand for re­tail con­tin­ues to grow, tech­nol­ogy has emerged as the game changer for re­tail­ers. While e-com­merce and on­line shop­ping of­fers con­ve­nience for some, it can never re­place the ex­pe­ri­ence of phys­i­cally be­ing at a mall, whether it's to shop, dine, visit the cin­ema, play at the kids' zone or sim­ply meet up and so­cialise.

But equally, mall own­ers must look to the on­line play­ers and as­sess the fea­si­bil­ity of more cost ef­fec­tive pric­ing to at­tract con­sumers to their premises.

Con­sumers are look­ing for ex­pe­ri­ences and as long as malls are able to suc­cess­fully cre­ate and de­liver these ex­pe­ri­ences that go be­yond re­tail and in­clude F&B, en­ter­tain­ment and life­style of­fer­ings, malls will con­tinue to grow in pop­u­lar­ity. But mall devel­op­ers must re­mem­ber that to stay rel­e­vant for con­sumers they must of­fer the whole gamut of ser­vices with­out com­pro­mis­ing on choice or qual­ity.

Shoppers to­day are more in­formed and con­nected than they were a decade ago and tech­nol­ogy has played a cru­cial part in en­abling this tran­si­tion. Mall own­ers must there­fore use tech­nol­ogy as a tool to cre­ate or en­hance re­tail and life­style of­fer­ings that ap­peal to con­sumers.

As real es­tate devel­op­ers in­tro­duce com­mu­nity re­tail in con­junc­tion with their res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments to ad­dress the ex­ist­ing cap­tive de­mand for F&B and su­per­mar­kets, mall devel­op­ers will need to ad­dress sim­i­lar gaps in the mar­ket to stay suc­cess­ful in the long term.

In the run up to Expo2020, real es­tate devel­op­ers and mall own­ers are look­ing at a re­freshed line-up of in­ven­tory across the city. This will stim­u­late the sec­tor and cre­ate vi­brant new op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth and ex­pan­sion of re­tail con­cepts in the UAE in the years to come.


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