Retailers put this year's DSS growth at 15%

With a slew of summer offdssers being launched to tempt customers into parting with their hard-earned cash over the annual Dubai Summer Surprises period, some retailers hope to see sales rise by as much as 15 per cent.

"We expect a 15 per cent growth over last year's DSS even though this DSS is a fortnight shorter," Niranjan Gidwani, Deputy CEO of the Eros Group told Emirates Business ahead of the DSS, which begins on Thursday and runs until August 7.

"With our aggressive promotions and prices we are quite positive on sales this year. Customers will be spoilt for choice with our offers, from best prices to raffle draws and much more," he said. Eros is only one of several retailers looking to boost consumer spending in a tight market.

The Dubai Shopping Malls Group yesterday announced that 21 city malls have clubbed together this year to raffle off 14 BMW Series 3 luxury sedans to be won, making it the biggest DSS raffle promotion this summer. Separately, the three Majid Al Futtaim malls – Deira City Centre, Mirdif City Centre and Mall of the Emirates – have clubbed together to give away Dh200,000 each week until June 17.

DSS was launched in 1998 to revitalise the sluggish summer retail period and has traditionally seen high-profile giveaways such as apartments and private jets.

"Those days are gone," Eisa Adam, a member of DSMG's Board of Directors, said frankly. "We could be doing more if we had more funds at our disposal, but we're doing enough to move people's hearts," he said.

Adam, who is also General Manager of BurJuman Centre, said malls relied on small events such as community-based contests and entertainment acts to bring customers in and keep them within their air-conditioned environs for a few hours. "Within that time, they're definitely going to have a coffee or a meal, and maybe even spend some money in one of the shops," he said.

Adam said he expected consumer spending would be better than last year, but did not offer any projections. "The biggest crisis we faced has been one of consumer confidence, but we're seeing people start to spend now," he said. Laila Suhail, CEO of the Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment, which organises the DSS, told this paper separately that the agency expected numbers to be consistent with last year. In 2009, DSS posted revenues of Dh3.3 billion on the back of 2.2 million visitors, the DEPE said.

"We've worked with retailers to increase the value proposition to customers this year, so we're hoping to achieve the same numbers," Suhail said. "Bear in mind that because of Ramadan, the DSS only runs for 52 days as compared to 65 days last year."

The event is being organised at a cost of Dh60 million, down from last year with sponsors finding it hard to stump up cash. "But we're working with sponsors to create additional packages by way of barter deals or targeted events, so although it's been tough, it's coming together well," she said. This year's event has 12 headline sponsors, one less than last year.

Both Suhail and the retailers felt the ongoing Fifa World Cup 2010 would positively impact revenues, despite fears that hotels and standalone events firms would pull away business over the next four weeks.

"The World Cup adds to the hype. Most malls have tents and football-related activities, and we are also screening all the matches at Modhesh World. All of that adds value," Suhail said.

"The World Cup is a global event and we in the UAE are very much part of this global phenomenon. Sales have already increased by 30 to 35 per cent with sales of 3D TVs also taking off. This growth will be sustained as the event continues along with the DSS promotions," Eros' Gidwani said.

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