DUBAI // Prepare to shop until you drop off. Seven malls in Dubai will be open for 48 hours straight in the first weekend of the Eid Al Adha holiday.
Others will have shops, cafes and restaurants trading into the early hours of the morning as the emirate operates extended hours for a second year in its Eid In Dubai shopping festival.
It’s good news for night owls but tricky for shop managers who have to organise their staff. They have been drawing and redrawing time sheets over the past two weeks as they look closely at lessons learnt last year.
“We already knew it well in advance this year, so we’ve been planning ahead,” said Sajid Sayed, general manager of the fashion retailer Giordano, which has six shops operating the extended hours.
“It’s all down to the rotation of staff. We’ve managed to juggle people around a lot.
“During the morning hours it’s relatively quiet, so we will reduce staff then so they can support the team later in the day.”
He will also draft in staff from shops operating normal hours.
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 only 20 days in advance. “It did catch us by surprise, but we managed to work around it,” said Mr Sayed. “It went very well last year and we didn’t really encounter any problems.”
The Eid In Dubai celebrations will run from October 10 to 19. It is thought the 48-hour opening period will be October 18 to 19.
The malls that have signed up to open through the night are Mall of the Emirates, Deira City Centre, Mirdif City Centre, Dubai Mall, Dubai Festival City Mall, Arabian Centre and Lamcy Plaza.
When they are not open 24 hours, shops will close at 2am and food will be served until 3am.
Other malls, such as Ibn Battuta Mall, BurJuman, Dubai Outlet Mall, Al Ghurair Centre and Mercato, will open until at least midnight from October 10 to 19.
“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.
“We are glad that they have always been cooperative and we ensure that those staff recognising Eid are given shifts that enable them to spend time with their families while balancing out their work responsibilities.
“Taking into consideration the influx of tourists that 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.”
Only one Giordano store, at Dubai Mall, took part in the extended opening last year. “We saw sales moving all the way until just after midnight and experienced a drop after that,” Mr Sayed said. “But then it picked up in the early hours of the morning when people came in for breakfast.”
Coffee shops had customers at even the most unsociable of hours, as exhausted shoppers sought a caffeine hit to keep going.
“Costa Coffee are more than happy to keep our mall stores open for 24 hours during Eid to accommodate the busy shopping period and to keep our customers refreshed during the late night shopping,” said Eric Hughes, general manager of Costa Coffee.
He said the chain would offer “promotions” to staff working during the night.
Dubai sees a huge bump in the number of GCC tourists during Eid Al Adha, and the plan to open the malls came from a desire to capture the spending power of those visitors.
“Extending the celebrations to cover a 10-day period will have the dual impact of attracting more visitors and encouraging them to stay for longer, increasing the contribution that each visitor makes to the Dubai economy,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai’s department of tourism and commerce marketing.
Mr Sayed said the popularity of last year’s event was due to the novelty factor.
“People are just curious to see what’s going on,” he said. “That’s why you’d see people just wandering around the mall at one or two o’clock in the morning.”