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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Dubai Duty Free has record sales in 2017, reversing a two-year decline

Shops at Dubai's airports benefited from weaker dollar, tourist upsurge 

Last year, Dubai Duty Free sold 73 million pieces of merchandise from its 27.2 million transactions. Sarah Dea / The National
Last year, Dubai Duty Free sold 73 million pieces of merchandise from its 27.2 million transactions. Sarah Dea / The National

Dubai Duty Free said its sales in 2017 rose to a record, increasing 5.6 per cent over the previous year as tourists flocked back to the Emirate following a two-year drop in sales when the strong US dollar held growth back.

Sales for Dubai Duty Free rose to Dh7.05 billion in 2017 while sales in December alone rose to Dh801 million, a monthly sales record after a three day 25 per cent discount on merchandise netted Dh196m. The gain in 2017 reversed two years of decline in sales at Dubai Duty Free.

"We are pleased to announce such a positive year with 2017 marking our thirty-fourth year in business," said Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of Dubai Duty Free.

"The entire team at Dubai Duty Free has worked hard to provide passengers with a first-class shopping experience at both Dubai International and Al Maktoum International."

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Dubai Duty Free sales dip on soft retail market

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The UAE's retail sector has suffered in recent years from the strong US dollar, to which the UAE dirham is pegged, making items sold in the duty free expensive to visitors from countries such as Europe and China.

But last year the Bloomberg Dollar Index fell 8.5 per cent last year from a year earlier.

Sales at duty free outlets at Dubai International and Al Maktoum airports declined by 3.2 per cent to Dh6.67bn in 2016 from Dh6.89bn from 2015. DDF’s 2015 figure, showing a 1.5 per cent decline on the previous year, was the first drop in revenue in more than two decades.

Last year, Dubai Duty Free sold 73 million pieces of merchandise from its 27.2 million transactions, the company said. Perfumes were the best-selling category, netting Dh1.1bn, or 16 per cent of total sales. Liquor and tobacco recorded Dh1.1bn in sales and Dh690.1m respectively. Sales of cosmetics rose 17 per cent to Dh626m while revenues from electronics increased 16 per cent to Dh547m.

An uptick in tourist arrivials last year helped buoy duty free sales.

Dubai tourist arrivals surged 7.5 per cent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2017 as the emirate, the commercial and business hub of the Middle East, is on track for a record year of visitors, according to latest government data.

Tourist arrivals reached 11.58 million in the first nine months of last year, with Dubai's top three source markets – India, Saudi Arabia and UK – maintaining their spots.