Bless the mall, bless the mall … the best meeting place of 'em all

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By Martin Croucher  www.thenational.ae

DUBAI // The emergence of the mall as not only a shopping venue but a meeting place and an entertainment hub is the reason why the online retail market has yet to catch up with that in the West, a marketing academic says.

  Shoppers such as these at Deira City Centre in Dubai view malls as a source of entertainment and socialising.  Amy Leang / The National
Shoppers such as these at Deira City Centre in Dubai view malls as a source of entertainment and socialising. Amy Leang / The National

Sitting at a computer and ordering online cannot match the entertainment value offered by Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s malls, with their thousands of restaurants and shops, ice rinks and even ski slopes and zoos, according to a report by Nnamdi Madichie, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Sharjah.

“Online shopping is unlikely to ever match the hedonistic consumption patterns in Dubai’s malls,” said Mr Madichie, whose findings were published in a report entitled, “The Bold and the Beautiful of the UAE Retail Environment” in October’s edition of the journal Marketing Intelligence and Planning.

“People go there not just for shopping, but also for a lifestyle option and for socialising. Entertainment has actually become the core product of shopping malls.

“This presents a major challenge to the country’s efforts to lure shoppers online.”

His report describes The Dubai Mall as a “mini metropolis”, highlighting its 1,200 shops, restaurants, an aquarium, skating rink, fountain show, cinema and hotels.

Many shoppers at The Dubai Mall confirmed they go to the venue not only for shopping but also for entertainment.

“It’s just something to do,” said Adrian Young, 33, from the UK. “I don’t always buy something. I come here for cinemas, restaurants or just to read a book.”

He said that the shipping charges for international retailers such as Amazon.com were often prohibitively high. “If I want to buy something, I buy it when I’m here,” he added. More info