Saturday, 13 December 2008

Slowdown Yet to Affect Retailers in the UAE

13 December 2008

ABU DHABI — Early signals from the market in the current festival season indicate that the global recessionary fears have 'not yet affected' the retail sector in UAE as a whole and Abu Dhabi in particular, according to the major retailers.

Talking to the Khaleej Times here the officials of the Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society (ADCS), the Lulu Hypermarkets and KM Trading said they have so far seen no sign of decline in sales or reduction in enthusiasm in any of their retail outlets here, in spite of the widespread reports of the credit crunch from most of the countries.

The retail outlets in the region launch aggressive sales offers for couple of weeks towards the end of November every year to coincide with the festivals like Eid, Christmas, Arabic New Year and English New Year. But this year when they launched the sales offers last week they too were apprehensive whether the global slowdown will dampen their turnover.

"But we are quite happy to say that the feed backs from the outlets in the last couple of days have dispelled those apprehensions. As of now there is no real slowdown in our sales. Today for example we have registered 46 per cent growth in sales. On an average we have been registering 24 per cent growth after we launched this year's sales offers. We have put about 600 items on our promotional sales category this time. And there are good movements for all of them," says the Marketing Manager of Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, Bejoy Thomas.

The ADCS which is into 30 years' of operation accounts for 40 per cent of the market share in the retail sector in Abu Dhabi.

"The response has been encouraging not only grocery and other items, but even in the luxury items like branded perfumes, electronics and textiles. We had opened an electronics shop in the ADCS outlet at Muroor Road last week. The response was tremendous there from the day one onwards," he said.

"We hope to achieve 15 to 20 per cent growth increase in our sales during this festival season, compared to our turnover in the normal days. This is what we used to achieve during this season every year. We're not feeling adversely affected by the global recessionary sentiments. The people here do not appear to have put a brake on their spending habits because of the reports of the current financial crisis. This is true not only in Abu Dhabi but across UAE," says a spokesman for the Lulu Hypermarket chains.

Echoing similar views a spokesman for the KM Trading said, people's psychology appear to be that they wait for the sales season to arrive to make their major purchases so that they will be able to get goods at cheaper rates than usual prices. "People cannot stop buying. They would have deferred their purchases from last month to this month, to take advantage of the sales season. People are flowing to our shops with the same enthusiasm as was visible last year."

Buoyed by the favourable customer response the retailers also dismissed the suggestion to introduce additional offers to woo customers this year in view of the global recession.

However, most of them conceded a better assessment of the market situation will be possible only around December 14 after gauging the customer behaviour during the ensuing holidays.

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