Saudi retailers are reportedly calling on authorities to lift a ban on single men shopping on weekends, with some claiming they will be forced to shutdown due to poor sales.
Men were originally prevented from going to malls on the weekend to avoid the centres becoming meeting points for single men and women, or women and families being hassled.
But according to Arab News businesses are complaining it has cost them sales, particularly in the lead up to the busy Ramadan season.
The owner of a male clothing shop at a Jeddah mall, Saleh Abdul Muhsen, told the newspaper weekends were the most ideal time for retailers because men had time off work, “but the ban on single men entering malls during weekends is causing huge losses and has triggered the shutting down of many men’s clothing stores”.
He said some shop owners had been forced to shutdown because they could no longer afford high rents amid a sharp decline in sales.
Adnan Al Banowi, a marketing official for a mobile sales company, said: “We have a large number of outlets in malls and preventing single men from entering these shops over the weekend has affected our sales badly.
“Therefore, the company is now focusing on women, who constitute more than 60 percent of our customers.
“[But] we can earn sizable profits only if our products reach all sections of society, including young men and women.”
Single men also are not allowed to meet at malls for a coffee or meal.
“Most young men come to spend their free time in the cafes,” Sharief Radwan, an employee of a shop at Flamengo Mall in Jeddah, told Arab News.
“They prefer weekends to visit these cafes, and they have just as much right as anyone else to enter the malls any day they want to. The authorities should find other ways to prevent young men from annoying women customers.”