As one of the Strategic Partners of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, DFRE, an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, DTCM, and the organisers of DSF, Dubai Duty Free continues to play a pivotal role in offering visitors from around the world a fantastic glimpse of the Festival's offerings even before they step outside of the airport.
"The influx of tourists during the Dubai Shopping Festival has played an important role in turning "flyers into buyers" in the emirate. Growing from a sales turnover of US$20 million in 1983 to US$1.917 billion in 2014, Dubai Duty Free is very much part of the fabric of Dubai's growth as a world-class destination," Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman, Dubai Duty Free said.
On the importance of the DSF period in terms of Dubai Duty Free's success, he said, "DSF, which attracts so many visitors to Dubai during the beginning of the year, plays an important role in driving the retail sector across the board. For Dubai Duty Free, the additional visitors mean that we have an opportunity to increase the spend per head of those travellers and to convert flyers into buyers. Our job is to ensure that we sell to around 50 percent of all travellers, so with the increase in passengers, our sales should increase and this is the case." Speaking about Dubai Duty Free's future plans, he said, "Our plans obviously go hand in hand with the development at Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International – Dubai World Central. The opening of Concourse D at Dubai International this year will add a new dimension to our retail offer of 26,000 square metres. With Concourse D, we will add a further 7,000 square metres of retail space there with a different layout and some new brands." "The long-term plans for Al Maktoum International, where we currently have 2,500 square metres of retail space, will be carried out in two phases. The first phase involves the construction of two satellite buildings, with a collective capacity of 120 million passengers annually, which will accommodate 100 A380 aircraft at any one time and which will take between six to eight years to complete at a cost US$32 billion. We will ultimately cover around 80,000 square metres when the final project is completed." Salah Tahlak, Senior Vice President , Corporate Communications, Dubai Duty Free, spoke about the evolving trends in spending habits, new forms of payment methods, and spender demographics. "Shopping habits have changed over the last two decades. The core Duty Free items are still important but there is an increasing demand for electronics, perfumes and cosmetics, and high-end fashion, with the growth of Chinese and Russian travellers driving the sale of luxury goods. We have 570 Chinese staff and in a previous study we noted that Chinese shoppers at Dubai Duty Free accounted for 4% of shoppers but their spend accounted for 12% of sales." Commenting on the biggest spenders at DDF, he said, "Our boarding card analysis shows that shoppers from China, India, the UK, Russia and GCC countries make up our top five spenders. Some of this is due to the sheer numbers of passengers – India and the UK are our top two destination countries, and the GCC countries contribute big numbers. Chinese passengers spend nearly eight times above their numbers, and Russian-speaking travellers, nearly three times as much."