By Ed Attwood
Mall developer says retail sales stabilised during 2010, predicts single-digit growth for 2011
The introduction of Emaar’s Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping centre in the Gulf, has had no adverse affects on the portfolio run by Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Properties, the latter’s CEO has said.
MAF Properties is the developer behind Mall of the Emirates, Deira City Centre and Mirdif City Centre, all of which are located in Dubai.
“In 2009, we saw a drop-off in sales, but how much of that was the Dubai Mall factor and how much of it was the economy factor, we’ll never know,” MAF Properties CEO Peter Walichnowski told Arabian Business.
“But the number and size of malls here is greater than the local population can support, so Dubai needs to drag people into the emirate as tourists. Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa helped create another destination, and gave more tourists a reason to come to Dubai.”
Walichnowski said that visitors to Dubai often tended to spend one day at Dubai Mall and one day at Mall of the Emirates, and that the two destinations were therefore complementary rather than competitive.
“We don’t really talk about Dubai Mall as a big competitor and we have to worry about the numbers. If both of us are getting business, then that’s good - it means more tourists down the line.”
However, Walichnowski said that if the long-planned Mall of Arabia launched in the next year or so, it would be “too much, too soon”.
“But I don’t know what progress is there…and I’ve heard nothing in the marketplace about its opening date. So from this current situation, it would have to be three years away, I guess and by then life will be different,” he said.
With regard to Mirdif City Centre, which opened in March this year, the MAF Properties CEO said that while the property was seeing month-on-month increases in foot traffic and sales, it would not be into its “full stride” until the middle of 2011 as an established mall.
But Walichnowski added that the overall picture in Dubai was one of stablisation, helped by rising numbers of tourists.
“In 2009, we saw a drop, as did all of Dubai, but in 2010 we’ve seen a stabilisation of foot traffic and sales inside our three malls,” he added.
“And we’re predicting some growth next year to start coming through in the sales – it’s single digit growth, but it’s growth nevertheless.”
To say you will never know whether the drop off in sales in 2009 was due to the economy or Dubai Mall is not really true. You could talk to every retailer in your Mall of the Emirates who also has a shop in Dubai Mall as well as other Dubai locations. They would probably share the information with you. If you use a reputable research firm they could also put together a survey for customers in Mall of the Emirates which could also help educate you.
So people spend a full day at Dubai Mall and a full day at Mall of the Emirates? Doing what? And did a research firm give you this information?
I suggest you choose your words a bit better there Peter. To say Dubai needs to "drag" people into the emirate as tourists is not the best visual.
Mall of Arabia would be too much too soon only if they do more of the same. If they are different, they will take business from MAF.
We supply to a few shops in the MOE and they are ordering less and less. A few of them have already closed shop and the future looks very bleak for the rest.