The duty-free industry in Abu Dhabi and Dubai is expected to grow again next year after weathering the global economic downturn this year.
Duty free sales to grow next year
The duty-free industry in Abu Dhabi and Dubai is expected to grow again next year after weathering the global economic downturn this year. Figures from Abu Dhabi Duty Free yesterday revealed that it was aiming for 18 per cent sales growth next year, up from a record Dh500 million (US$136.1m) this year. Dubai Duty Free (DDF) is expecting growth of about 7 per cent on its $1.14 billion sales this year. Sales at Abu Dhabi International Airport climbed 12.7 per cent this year from last year.
Huraiz Almur bin Huraiz, the chief commercial officer for Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), said a major factor was the opening of Terminal 3 this year, which has added 2,600 square metres of retail space. "We have made a number of changes since 2008, such as transitioning from an in-house operation to a partnership with [transport solutions firm] DFS, as well as opening a number of new boutiques such as the new luxury brands in T3," Mr bin Huraiz said.
Duty-free sales have deteriorated globally as people scale back travel plans and are more cautious with spending. But the Middle East has been one of the few regions with sales and passenger traffic rising. Global travel retail sales in the first half of this year, the most recent figures available, dropped by 7.4 per cent to $19.9bn, data from Generation Research in Sweden showed. But in Abu Dhabi, as traffic grew by 7.5 per cent, duty free sales rose 12.7 per cent, with the average traveller spending 5.5 per cent more than last year.
Travel retail sales in Dubai this year are expected to grow by up to 4 per cent, said George Horan, the deputy managing director of DDF. But the average passenger in Dubai spent 8 per cent less this year. Next year, Mr Horan expects sales at DDF, which was the number one duty-free retailer in the world last year, to increase between 6 per cent and 8 per cent due to predicted passenger growth at Dubai International Airport.