A prolonged period of low oil prices coupled with the currency fluctuation has impacted retail and tourism to some extent, however mall developers remain confident about the market in the medium to long term and are exploring expansion plans with a bullish outlook, says an expert.
“Several retailers have hailed e-commerce as the next big thing, it will only supplement brick and mortar retail. Increasingly, we are seeing the lines between both blurring – Amazon announced the launch of physical bookstores in the US and there are reports that they could open physical grocery stores in some other markets. This seems contradictory to the perception that retail is increasingly moving from offline to online.
“In the UAE and the Middle East, as long as shopping malls remain family destinations – that offer a mix of retail, F&B and entertainment offerings – we expect that online retail will gain popularity, but will not rival physical stores anytime in the immediate future.”
“In a market where convenience and ease of shopping are key drivers for growth, we expect that grocery retail is a very exciting category with very strong potential for growth.”
“The impending introduction of VAT is also likely to impact the attractiveness of the UAE as a destination for investors. Furthermore, as neighbouring countries continue to see growing investment from international retail chains, consumers who looked at Dubai as a premier short haul destination for retail – including India and China – could be re-evaluating this.”
For retailers looking to enter the UAE, having an online presence will play a very important role in determining success.