x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

End of holy month means busy times for UAE retailers

Demand for Samsung smartphones, Lego and chocolate helped retailers to report an increase in sales this Eid week.

Retail sales were up by as much as 14 per cent during the Ramadan and Eid season. Pawan Singh / The National
Retail sales were up by as much as 14 per cent during the Ramadan and Eid season. Pawan Singh / The National

Demand for Samsung smartphones, Lego and chocolate helped retailers to report an increase in sales this Eid week as residents lined up to buy gifts during the festive season.

The lead up to Ramadan and Eid in general was much stronger this year, said Ashish Panjabi, the chief operating officer of Jacky’s.

“We had seen sales up during Ramadan by about 15 per cent compared to the same period last year,” he said. “At the moment sales are up by about 14 per cent [during Eid week] compared to the same promotion period last year but with a few days left of the public sector holidays, we expect strong sales to continue.”

Among the bestsellers were smartphones, especially the Samsung Galaxy S5 dual-sim model, Samsung Galaxy Tab S and the Apple iPad Air. The group, which has eight stores across Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Abu Dhabi, also saw a growth in sales of bigger television sets, especially 55 inches and above, among local residents. While the inventory holding at the stores did not increase substantially, the replenishment rates were higher.

“What was interesting was that while our outlets in Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates saw a good jump in sales due to the footfall those malls have, we saw the strongest growth from our Northern Emirates outlets in Sharjah and Ajman as well as our Abu Dhabi store, possibly because many serious buyers were aware of the fact that finding parking or accessing the Downtown area was a challenge,” Mr Panjabi said.

Toy shops were also busy with customers coming in with children in tow.

“The second day of Eid, was the busiest day,” said Sam Ghori, the general manager at Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us for Middle East and North Africa region. “With all family greeting and visiting formalities completed parents had the chance to treat their kids.”

The company’s seven stores across the UAE, with three in Dubai, two in Sharjah and two in Abu Dhabi, recorded 3 per cent growth in sales compared with last year during the first two days of Eid.

“This would mainly be due to customers who preferred to stay back in the country for Eid and travel in August for the summer break,” Mr Ghori said. “This year we increased our inventory by 12 per cent.”

The top sellers were licensed toys from Trash Pack, Lego, Furby, Barbie and Doc McStuffins.

Home-grown chocolatier Delice, however, reported a drop in average spending per customer, especially corporates, by as much as 70 per cent. It also sells sweets, dates, macaroons and other gifts.

Customers who spent up to Dh20,000 in previous years, for instance, spent around Dh2,000 this year, said Jalel Ghayaza, the founder and president.

“[Corporate] customers who used to confirm their orders during Ramadan for Eid delivery, this year they came to us just two days before Eid and their spending was 10 times less than before,” Mr Ghayaza said. “We had the same sales as last year because of an increase in the number of customers.”

This year, the Delice outlet in The Dubai Mall saw on average 600 visitors and customers a day during the week before Eid, up from 220 a day last year during the same period. Among the favourite items were wooden boxes with Arabic designs and Eid and Ramadan greetings in metal calligraphy.

The brand has three outlets in Dubai. Its Harrod’s outlet, which opened earlier this year, was also busy with demand for Eid products, Mr Ghayaza said. Delice has a presence in Bahrain and Armenia as well.

Customers for the most part were UAE residents at its retail stores.

“Tourists that we did see came in primarily from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait,” Mr Panjabi of Jacky’s said. “Many tourists are generally more wrapped up in the food and beverage or entertainment aspects initially, but we expect them to float around for a few days, so we may see their transactions as we approach the weekend.”

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