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The Eid Al Adha shopping festival, now in its second year, was launched by the Dubai Government to boost tourism and sales over the holiday period. Lee Hoagland / The National
The Eid Al Adha shopping festival, now in its second year, was launched by the Dubai Government to boost tourism and sales over the holiday period. Lee Hoagland / The National

Dubai 48-hour Eid shopping festival draws mixed reactions from mall staff

The festival, which is being held for the second year, is an initiative launched by the Dubai Government to boost tourism and sales over the holiday period.

DUBAI // Mall staff are having mixed reactions to the prospect of working around the clock as the emirate gears up for the start of another 48-hour shopping bonanza.

Mall of the Emirates, Deira City Centre, Mirdif City Centre, Dubai Mall, Dubai Festival City Mall, Arabian Centre, Oasis Centre and Lamcy Plaza will be open from 10am on Tuesday until 3am on Thursday as part of the Eid Al Adha shopping festival.

The event, in its second year, was launched by the Dubai Government to boost tourism and sales over the holiday period.

Megh Bds Khadka, who works on a clothing stall in Festival City, said he would only be happy if the extra working hours meant extra sales.

“Last year there was hardly anyone around after 1am apart from sales staff,” he said. “It only meant that we had to work longer hours without increased revenue.”

As one of two employees at the stall, Mr Khadka said he would have to work two 12-hour shifts to cover the extended opening times.

“If there will be customers around it will be good but if no one comes then it will be a lost time for us,” he said.

Rahaf Bundakji, a resident of Dubai, welcomed being able to shop until the early hours of the morning but was unsure if many people would take part.

“The move is fun but I’m not sure how helpful it is,” he said. “I personally would not go shopping so late into the night.”

Mall bosses were confident the longer opening hours would be a success, especially with the large number of tourists from GCC nations in the city.

“This is the second year that we are doing this, so both mall management and retailers now understand what the requirements are,” said Fuad Sharaf, of Majid Al Futtaim Properties, which operates Deira City Centre, Mall of the Emirates and Mirdif City Centre.

“Taking into consideration the influx of tourists who will arrive for Eid in Dubai, in addition to the increased consumer confidence in the UAE, we are very optimistic to see both our sales and footfall increase, surpassing what we reached last year.”

Last year’s open-all-hours shopping festival took place over two weekends during Eid Al Adha and was viewed by retail analysts as an experiment. It was announced by decree with only 20 days for stores to prepare. But this year, retailers and mall management were informed well in advance.

Darlene Deguzman, a saleswoman at a watch stall in Festival City, was sure the extended hours would be as successful as last year.

“Surely sales must have come from that, otherwise I do not think that they would have repeated it,” she said.

Mrs Deguzman said her working hours would not change over the festival.

“I do a nine-hour shift in the morning and I will continue to do them during the extended working hours,” she said.

Other retailers were less confident about how much the extended hours would boost business and hoped customers would be more responsive than last year.

“We have put on a display of the new collection for Eid and we are hoping that this year will be different,” said Chetan Suarma, a manager at the Steve Madden shoe shop in Festival City.

Mr Suarma said he doubted many people would continue to shop in the early hours of the morning, although some customers had asked if the shop would be open around the clock.

“I have had people, especially visitors from Saudi Arabia, who have asked if we will be opening for 24 hours a day during Eid,” he said.

Mr Suarma has arranged for two members of staff to be working at any given time. Staff will also get more pay, although he expected them to feel tired during the early hours when there was not much to do.

“The fact that this year the around the clock timing is only for two days brings happiness to the staff,” he said.

Malls not taking part in the 48-hour festival, such Ibn Battuta Mall, BurJuman, Dubai Outlet Mall, Al Ghurair Centre and Mercato, will remain open until at least midnight.

wissa@thenational.ae

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