x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

High-octane trade across Abu Dhabi malls thanks to Grand Prix

Shopping malls in the capital experienced a substantial rise in footfall as a result of the Formula One race.

Malls in Abu Dhabi had a bumper time last week as Formula One fans and tourists descended on the capital. Pawan Singh / The National
Malls in Abu Dhabi had a bumper time last week as Formula One fans and tourists descended on the capital. Pawan Singh / The National

Shopping centres enjoyed a substantial rise in visitor numbers at the weekend as the Formula One Grand Prix sped through the capital.

Across the six malls in Abu Dhabi owned by Lulu, which include Al Wahda and Mushrif, the number of visitors was up by about a third.

"It is fair to say we have seen 25 per cent to 30 per cent more shoppers during this time. Even last year we noticed this phenomenon," said V Nandakumar, a spokesman for Emke, which owns Lulu.

"A lot of tourists and Formula One fans all descend on Abu Dhabi during this time and of course this means they also spend time going around Abu Dhabi city and visit shopping malls," he said.

GCC residents may also have extended their stay over Eid to take in the F1 race, further boosting sales, added Mr Nandakumar.

Al Wahda, which has just opened an extension featuring more than 200 shops, welcomed more visitors, but there were also more shoppers at other centres including Mushrif Mall and Al Raha Mall, near Yas Island, where the F1 is held.

And it seems more people were also spending their money in malls, with chains also reporting a rise in sales.

"We have seen visitors and tourists in the Abu Dhabi stores," said Sajid Sayed, the general manager of the clothing retailer Giordano in the UAE. "I don't think it's been double digits, but it has definitely been positive, something that has helped drive foot traffic into our stores."

Some retailers said sales had risen as much as 50 per cent.

"It has been busy for the last two weeks. Sales have gone up 22 per cent to 25 per cent and some are looking at 50 per cent," said Firoz Merchant, the chairman of the UAE-based jeweller Pure Gold. "All the stores in all the malls are doing very well."

At Style Gallery, a jeweller in Emirates Palace that commissioned a 22-carat gold-plated, diamond-encrusted miniature F1 car to sell at its shop in the hotel, business was also up. The shop said it had increased sales by 25 to 30 per cent over the weekend, matching increases during the F1 race period last year.

Watches and rings in particular had gone down well with F1 fans, said Ahmed Abou El Anin, a sales assistant at the jeweller.

But the shop has yet to sell the bejewelled car, which costs Dh175,000 (US$47,645). Mr El Anin said he had no doubt it would sell before the end of the week.

"Everyone passing the shop wants to take a photo of the car."