x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Retailers happy to get some World Cup fever

Football fans in the UAE are gearing up for the FIFA World Cup, rushing out to buy boots and jerseys ahead of the kick- off next Friday.

Football fans in the UAE are gearing up for the FIFA World Cup, rushing out to buy boots and jerseys ahead of the kick- off next Friday. Sales at sports shops in the Emirates have surged in recent weeks, retailers say. Jerish Silva, the Puma store manager at Deira City Centre in Dubai, said the store had seen a 50 per cent boost in business since the middle of last month.

"The impact is big," said Mr Silva. "Lots of Arabs come in and buy football apparel, especially to support the Algerian team. But we also see a lot of expatriates from Europe and South Africa buying stuff in support of their teams." The sporting goods market in the UAE was worth US$167.9 million (Dh616.7m) and is expected to grow by about 8 per cent this year to $181.1m, data from the research company Euromonitor show.

But with the hotly anticipated tournament about to start, retailers are hoping to reap even more rewards on the back of football fever. The World Cup is held only once every four years, so it is a key event for sporting retailers, said Vishal Bhatia, the marketing manager for the Dubai sporting goods chain Sun and Sand Sports. "The countdown has already begun ? like any city, Dubai is getting ready with a lot of [hotel] venues to watch the games live and that's having a knock-on effect in our stores as well."

Mirza Ali, a store supervisor at Sun and Sand Sports in Deira City Centre, said since it started its World Cup promotions on May 15, the outlet had seen a 20 per cent rise in sales. The number of customers rose by 15 per cent, he added. Meanwhile, Rafi Mesina, a salesman at the FILA sports store in Deira City Centre, said it usually did not sell much football gear but had stocked up after many customers asked for it. FILA brought in some Diadora football stock under a special agreement with the Italian brand, he said.

"It sold out immediately," Mr Mesina said. "One football coach from Tanzania came in and bought 600 pairs of Diadora sports shoes." @Email:aligaya@thenational.ae