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Stores prepare for Eid shopping spree

After a busy Ramadan, shops are preparing for a further rush as families flock to buy gifts over Eid al Fitr.

ABU DHABI // After a busy Ramadan, shops are preparing for a further rush as families flock to buy gifts, jewellery and clothes over the Eid al Fitr break. Abu Dhabi Mall expects a 25 to 30 per cent increase in customers over the period. "Eid days are the busiest of the year," said Maher Haj, a spokesman for the shopping centre, which houses more than 220 stores.

"During Eid, families buy gifts for their kids, so toys will be popular. Also men may buy jewellery for their wives, so we will see more sales of those items." Shopping centres across the country offer special performances, live music and dance shows over the festive period to draw extra visitors. "Most of our performances will be aimed at kids, we'll have plays and puppet shows," said Mr Haj. The Mall of the Emirates in Dubai is flying in an Iranian ensemble, the Otlar Dance Company, for a special show which will feature Azeri dance and instruments.

"We'll certainly be expecting to get a lot more customers, especially in the evenings, it will be mostly families shopping," said Abdul al Shajri, general manager of the Gap store in Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall. Demand for gold is always high in the run up to the holiday, pushing up prices for the precious metal. The Dubai Gold and Jewellery Group said it expects gold sales to rise by as much as a 20 per cent during the run up to Eid. However as the holiday begins many stores hold promotions to increase their own sales and end up cutting prices.

"If you go to any shopping mall you'll find that each one is doing a promotion," said Kholoud al Thani, marketing manager for the Dubai Shopping Festival, which is running a special event that aims to bring the spirit of Eid to residents and visitors. "The tradition of shopping during Eid goes way back, it's a family activity, everybody goes out shopping during Eid," Mr Thani said. The holiday will see an Eid al Fitr district created in Dubai Festival City, where families can go to enjoy a fair, sweets and food.

"We just want to share with everyone what we do during Eid," she said. The event, which follows the success of the Dubai Summer Surprises festival, has been welcomed by retailers across the city, and is expected to boost to the number of visitors to Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, those arriving at the capital's international airport will be offered a taste of the festive season at a tent where they are invited to relax and sample local tea, coffee and dates.

"This is one way of spreading awareness of our cultural traditions to other nationalities and hopefully ignite a desire within these passengers to learn more about our heritage," said Saeed Hamdan al Tunaiji, the media manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. lmorris@thenational.ae

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