x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

World Cup eats into slow time for retailers

Shopkeepers report robust sales of goods related to the beautiful game.

The buzz of the vuvuzelas at the FIFA World Cup may have been declared haram at high volumes but it was music to the ears of UAE retailers. Many shopkeepers are reporting robust sales of goods related to the beautiful game, from the loud plastic horns that were a feature of the competition to football gear and flat-screen televisions. Geant Hypermarkets brought about 6,000 vuvuzelas into the UAE ahead of the event and were almost sold out by the semi-finals, said Arif Shaikh, a director with the Bahrain-based Retail Arabia, which runs Geant in the UAE.

"[In] Dubai people love sports and there is such a large expatriate population following football - from the Asians, the Europeans, everyone," Mr Shaikh said. The electronics retailer Emax saw a 28 per cent increase in sales of flat-screen LCD televisions last month compared with May, said its chief executive Neelesh Bhatnagar. More consumers were buying larger, 55-inch and 65-inch wide televisions, Mr Bhatnagar said.

"It is an additional incentive for people to upgrade their existing TV to a new TV," he said. "Otherwise, a lot of the consumers would not have upgraded. They would have held back their purchases and saved their money." Jacky's Electronics saw TV sales rise by 40 per cent during the World Cup compared with the month before, said Ashish Panjabi, the company's chief operating officer. "It definitely added an impetus to sales," Mr Panjabi said.

Vishal Bhatia, the marketing manager for the Dubai sporting goods chain Sun and Sand Sports said the shops saw a rise in sales during the tournament from avid football fans looking to wear their team's colours while watching the game. The World Cup helped to boost sales during the four weeks the tournament took place, which has been a slow time for sales in the past two years due to the economic downturn, Mr Bhatia said.

"There were a lot of venues in Dubai showing the World Cup and that craze started in the first week of June," he said. "I think a lot of people woke up and said, 'Wow, it's World Cup time. I need to buy scarves and the caps', whatever it may be." aligaya@thenational.ae