DUBAI AND ABU DHABI // Malls over the Eid Al Fitr long weekend were packed with shoppers looking to spend.
Sales of top fashion brands increased by more than 50 per cent and jewellery and electronics stores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi's biggest malls also did brisk business.
Hundreds of thousands thronged Dubai shopping destinations such as Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif and Deira City Centre and the Dubai Mall. Stores in the capital's Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Mall also reported higher numbers of visitors, particularly Emiratis, over the three-day break.
Tourists from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where public sector workers enjoyed 12 days off for Eid, made the most of extended opening hours in Dubai of 1am for shops and 3am for restaurants to splash the cash.
"It was very busy for us over the extended weekend. We did double the amount of business we normally do over the full Eid weekend from last Thursday," said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Jacky's Electronics.
"We were expecting a busy time for Eid and that's how it proved. Visitors from GCC countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar meant we did well.
"This is also the back to school period when many parents buy items for their children for the coming school year, so there was that aspect as well."
Pure Gold Jewellers, which has branches throughout the UAE, said sales to Saudi tourists were responsible for most of the 10 to 15 per cent increase in business over Eid.
Staff at Al Romaizan Jewellery in Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall were busy throughout the weekend. Branch manager Muhammed Hassan said sales jumped 15 per cent.
In Abu Dhabi Mall, Rameez, a sales representative at the Rolex store, said before Eid sales were good but they had dipped a little during the holiday although overall takings were on par with previous years.
"We have witnessed a positive boost in traffic over the three-day weekend," said Fuad Mansoor Sharaf of Majid Al Futtaim Properties, which operates the City Centre malls and Mall of the Emirates.
"With Saudi and Qatar enjoying extended holidays, we have also recorded large numbers of visitors from these GCC nations and expect the trend to continue into the week."
Visitor numbers to the malls increased from around 6pm each day over the weekend.
"We saw more business later on in the evening as people tend to visit relatives and go out during the day," said Mr Panjabi. "The malls in general were very busy and that included the cinemas and restaurants."
In Dubai, a series of events and family entertainment have been running throughout Eid, with shows and promotions due to end on Thursday.
At the Dubai Mall, shoppers had to wait more than an hour for taxis as cabs struggled with the number of people.
"Led by the 'Eid in Dubai' campaign, the city welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the region," said Nasser Rafi, chief executive of Emaar Malls Group, which owns the mall.
"Having recorded robust visitor arrivals this Eid, we look forward to the sustained tourist footfall through the rest of the year."
However, not every store reported bumper sales, with some at Marina Mall experiencing a drop. Staff put this down to traffic problems and a lack of promotions linked to Eid.
Asif Mohammed, who works at Oriental Stores, which sells high-end watches, said there had been "30 to 35 per cent less business this Eid compared with last year".
During the holidays around 40-45 customers came to the shop each day, although most of them were serious buyers, said Mr Mohammed, who put the lower numbers down to traffic issues on the main roads surrounding the mall.
Will Torres, sales executive at Promod in Marina Mall, said: "As compared to last year's Eid, the sales plunged down to almost 50 per cent. I feel poor marketing led to a drop in sales at the Marina Mall."