The government authority responsible for organising last weekend’s Super Sale has dismissed claims that the three-day shopping festival was in competition with online sales such as Souq.com’s White Friday.
“We’re definitely not competing. As a matter of fact, we had lots of discussions with online retailers to make sure we actually aligned on one good weekend to make sure the whole city is talking about retail… about the sale, about the promotion,” said Saeed Al Falasi, Executive Director for Retail at the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), part of Dubai Tourism.
Al Falasi added that regardless of whether the residents of Dubai turned up at the malls, or shopped online from home, “at the end of the day they’re spending. This is what we really care about.”
This would make retailers more money, he continued, and in turn help the city of Dubai.
Some retail analysts have argued that DFRE deliberately timed their sale, in coordination with Dubai’s mall operators, to fend off any potential threat from the online retailers, who they are wary of.
The government’s second Super Sale of the year, which saw prices at malls across the emirate slashed by up to 90 per cent, coincided with Souq.com’s White Friday sale bonanza, and Noon.com’s 50 per cent online sales too.
The senior government official said he did not believe this to be an issue, however.
Even if malls did not see an increase in footfall over the weekend, and people instead turned to online retailers, Al Falasi told Gulf News in an interview on Monday, “we’re still OK,” he said.
“Companies like Al Tayer have done a great job [going online],” he added.
Despite that, early estimates were actually largely positive, said Al Falasi.
“The initial discussion we had with the shopping malls as well as the shop managers… they both said: ‘Yes we’ve got more people, and more people are buying’,” he said.
Al Falasi confirmed that given the success of this year’s two Super Sales, from 2018 onwards he intended to market the shopping festival to other Gulf countries.
“We feel like the brand his built up enough stamina to market it in the region. That’s what the retailers want too,” he said.
The only issue that the organisers had experienced, noted Al Falasi, was that some retailers were failing to use the proper branding.
“What we noticed this year is that a lot of retailers have taken on the brand name, but a lot of others started having their own names as well, like Black Friday, and White Friday, and we want to build a brand for this city. So we’ll probably have a conversation with them, if it’s possible, to see if they can align with us,” he added.
Initially, when DFRE first announced the Super Sale concept back in May, the government body said it would hold the second edition on the same weekend as Martyr’s Day and National Day.
Earlier in the month, however, DFRE announced that the sale would be brought forward by a week.
Addressing speculation that the retail authority had been pressured by the government to not hold a sale on an important patriotic weekend, Al Falasi denied that this was the case.
Instead he argued that given the social nature of Dubai’s shopping malls, on a long weekend many people would visit the mall to eat, or watch a movie, taking precious parking spaces in the process.
“We wanted to utilise every person [that] goes to the mall to spend their money shopping,” Al Falasi said, adding that they didn’t want the competition.
“It was simply us trying to make a business decision,” he said.