Going by the control measures set to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, The Ministry of Health and Prevention has urged the public to keep social distancing measures in place. Although shopping malls in the UAE remain open, many other public places, including theme parks, indoor amusement centers, cinemas, and gyms, have closed to curb the contraction of the virus.

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While this period is quite sensitive to our health and safety, there is also a need for business owners to at least strike a reasonable margin by closing sales.  

A good number of businesses before the pandemic that ran their services independently from the online platform have experienced growth, more exposure, increased traffic, and therefore corresponding remuneration; however, the retail stores who before now had leveraged solely on their brick-and-mortar offices, and for some very few who had an online presence and have capitalized on it during the pandemic, have become better and stronger. 

How about those who relied solely on the conventional mode of conducting their business, is there any beam of hope to laws that could permit their usual free access and more importantly close sales? 

Well, the good news is that: retail sector in Dubai is changing as a result of shifting consumer trends, a global pandemic, and the proliferation of online shopping, which has encouraged it to expand, grow, and reach customers in new ways. It had been said that retail generates over AED105.1 billion per year, or 26.4 percent of GDP, and is a major draw for both residents and visitors to the UAE. The reach of virtual disruptions such as Amazon, noon, and NAMSHI has expanded as malls have spread throughout the city as well.

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As a good number of customers prefer to shop on their phones, Dubai’s retailers have embraced online trends as a catalyst for change – the retail experience is paramount, with malls mirroring their virtual counterparts and value, convenience, availability, and accessibility driving sales as well as customer interaction.  

Is it safe to say retail has not been surpassed by e-commerce?  

Well, I would say retailers have learned to bridge the physical and digital divides while strengthening customers’ bonds with their favorite establishments. According to statistics, 55% of Dubai consumers still prefer to shop in person than online. 

All thanks to technology and its acceptability, such that customers supplement their encounters with computerized apparatuses that enhance their experience and expand their purchasing options. With apps and Augmented Reality (AR) technology, the city’s retailers are bringing the benefits of online innovation into the physical space, which is very commendable. 

Customers can now browse the racks while looking through store-marked tablets that show items not available on the shop floor, and applications allow them to try on outfits without entering an evolving room. Customers can arrange for unavailable items to be delivered at the store or to their homes, and this technology was used to great effect during the Shoetopia event, likewise the American Rag Cie in-store initiation at the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF). 

Semi digital platforms like the Click & Collect are also a testament that both platforms have been bridged for a worthy customer experience, such that consumers could surf the net and identify with a product of choice but would be required to come by to the store for pick up.  

According to earlier statistics from PwC’s Covid-19 Pulse survey, semi-digital options such as click & collect had 51 percent of the 501 respondents stating they were shopping online either to pick up in-store (18 percent) or to have delivered to their homes (33 percent) 

Also be reminded that earlier in 2020, the Dubai mall had open windows for all retailers to showcase their services/goods on the online platform noon. ae thereby having multiple options of transacting. 

So, have online stores been affected by this new reality, yes, check! 

Would they be closing out stores? Not any time soon for those adaptive to change. 


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