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Mon 10 Nov 2008 07:04 AM

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79% say they will not shop at Dubai Mall

Arabian Business poll shows large number of shoppers have no plans to visit super-mall.

More than three-quarters of Arabian Business readers are planning to stay away from the new Dubai Mall, according to the results of an online poll.

A total of 79 percent of respondents said they would not be visiting the huge new shopping complex which opened on November 4.

And their views seem to support comments by retail analysts who question whether Dubai Mall will be able to hit their target of attracting 30 million shoppers during the first year of opening.

Industry observers say that the growth in consumer spending may not be able to keep up with the amount of retail space coming online in Dubai Mall.

“The purchasing power of many sections of the population has at best been stagnant, but often declined, because of higher rental costs,” Eckart Woertz, economist at Gulf Research Centre, told Arabian Business last week.

And the results of our poll suggest many people agree. Of the 79 percent of respondents who said they would not be visiting, 51 percent said it was because they could not afford to shop there.

They called into question the timing of launching such a project when many people were struggling to cope with the impact of the global credit crunch.

Another 28 percent of respondents said they would be would not visit the new mall until more retailers came online - for day one of operations, approximately 600 of the more than 1,200 retail spaces were open for business.

At the end of 2007, there were 1.5 million square metres of gross leasable area (GLA) in Dubai malls. This will double to 3 million square metres by the end of 2010.

But Dubai Mall bosses are confident of its success. Speaking at the opening, general manager Yousif Al-Ali said: “The growth in GDP will translate into more purchasing power in the region, even the tourism has not been affected – we are seeing a huge number of tourists coming to the region.

“We are satisfied that nothing will be affected in Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall will be the number one mall in the region in terms of sales.”

And 14 percent of respondents in our poll agreed with him, They said the shopping centre looked fantastic and they believed it would break all retail sales records in Dubai.

A further seven percent said they thought the wide range of luxury brands on offer at the mall would ensure high levels of spending.

The mall, one of the biggest in the world at 12.1 million square feet, will feature more than 1,200 stores and over 160 food and beverage outlets once complete.

Of the 1,200 retailers, more than 165 are opening in Dubai or the Middle East region for the very first time.

The mall is being built by Emaar Malls Group and is part of the $20 billion Downtown Burj Dubai, Emaar Properties’ 500-acre flagship project. At its centre is the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building.

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Niranjan 11 years ago

I feel that, as a concept, the Dubai Mall would do very well, once initial teething problems settle down. Our group has a very large Samsung boutique in the mall, and we have great expectations from this mall. However, on a personal note, it is a bit disappointing to see all key players getting into this regular habit of "soft opening". Don Soderquist, ex COO of Walmart, who was in Dubai for a retail conference, mentioned that essentially when a mall talks about a soft opening, they are acknowledging that they goofed up. Over the weekend, I wanted to visit our own store to see the progress of our interior work. I must say, I had to sit in my car for about 90 minutes, and finally in frustration I headed back home.

Raj 11 years ago

I must agree with this study. I seriously feel that the increase in rents thanks to the landlords, and increase in fees and everything else thanks to the government sucks a major share of earnings of the population. The remaining would be for necessities and savings. But again one can never be too sure in Dubai. All I can say is good luck. Cheers!

Ashar 11 years ago

I visited Dubai mall on the first Friday after its opening and to say that I was completely disappointed is an understatement. I saw more than 80% of the retail shops closed rather than 50%, it looked like I was walking in a construction site. The mall is bland like the corridors of a high school except for a very few architecturally interesting places. Just having shops after shops serves no purpose as there are hundreds of places where one can go shopping much closer to their homes. The only interesting place was the Aquarium outer wall which is free to view and I couldn't enter inside due to the rush anyway. Speaking of rush, it took me 1.30 hours to exit the mall, frustrated is an understatement. I would not go back even if they were giving away free stuff at the mall, which would mean another 4 hours for just entering and exiting the mall, not to mention the bare dry architecture and utterly confusing passages!

jeff 11 years ago

I don't blame locals/tourist cutting back on spending as the exchange rate, especially for UK tourists, is terrible so purchasing anything in a major retail store will be much more expensive than London. Even when the exchange rate was good prices were more expensive- why? no VAT or taxes in Dubai, shorter importing distances i.e China to Dubai - so why are prices higher? Prices need to come down as people will only go to window shop

AirMiles 11 years ago

Give it a few months. I agree on the soft opening comment though. Why enter a highly competitive market with a "squeek" instead of a "bang"? It will probably end up being popular with all the residents of the Burj Bubai and Old Town, in the same way Ibn Battuta appears to serve Discovery Gardens and Jebel Ali areas and MOE appears to serve Umm Sequim, Barsha and Marina areas. Would you travel from Mirdif more than once? Unlikely. Good luck DM. Gonna need it.

Saeid 11 years ago

I rode my motorcycle to the Dubai mall on Saturday after opening. The traffic in the parking lot was so horrendous that even on a bike I got stuck in traffic. There was plenty of help on hand from the staff, directing the traffic. But i think it is a problem with the lay out of the parking and the direction of flow. After visiting the mall for about an hour, with a map in hand, and still not finding the shop I was looking for, I headed back to the parking lot. It took me 45 minutes to find my bike. I saw a friend who was lost too. I ran into her 5 times on different floors, still both looking for our vehicles. If I visit the mall again, it will be on a Tuesday afternoon, when i know there won't be much traffic. And yes, I think EMAAR shot themselves in the foot with this soft opening. Instead of a bang it was more of a fizzle.

Jeremy Plumley 11 years ago

Massive queues on SZR last Friday trying to get into Dubai Mall. Why didn't the police move them on as it was 4 lanes trying to get into 2 at the roundabout? The developer of Emirates Mall constructed a dedicated interchange which makes access and exit very easy. Why was the developer of Dubai Mall not required to do the same except that it would have delayed the opening and/or reduced its profit? False economy as a dedicated access would have increased use of the mall (and profits) in the long run. Short term Dubai thinking as normal!

local 11 years ago

I haven't been in Duabi Mall as yet but I am planning to pay a visit not in a few days from now but a few weeks! I would prefer to go during the week days to enjoy the mall even if I will be spending more hours there. I believe it is something and an accomplishment at ME level!!!

Rami 11 years ago

Why would anyone willingly wait in traffic for a few hours to get to a mall? There are so many other options available without the hassle, that it's really not worth even visiting. 1st year, 30 million? no way. I will not be going to dubai mall before a few months, till the traffic and hype subsides...

Sudhir 11 years ago

I was talking to one of local friend.(UAE Citizen) on opening of Dubai mall. He also said that he will visit Dubai mall only after 3 monts !! I agree with his opinion. I don't have any plan to visit mall in near future.