Metro to increase footfall at malls

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    By Reena Amos Dyes  on Tuesday, June 09, 2009, http://www.business24-7.ae

    With the Dubai Metro set to start operating soon, malls in the emirate are expected to see an increase in footfall, said retailers.

    The Metro entrance to the mall will be on the first floor above Carrefour. (PATRICK CASTILLO)
    The Metro entrance to the mall will be on the first floor above Carrefour. (PATRICK CASTILLO)

    Realising the new trend of walk-in shoppers who will use public transport, mall owners are introducing facilities to add to the convenience of customers.

    Talking to Emirates Business Fuad Sharaf, Vice-President, Mall of the Emirates, said: “We have been working closely with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and it was RTA’s plan to link the Metro station to Mall of the Emirates, which we also supported wholeheartedly. Based on the research carried out by the RTA, the drop off rate at the mall station is expected to be 4,500 passengers per hour. This will increase the footfall in the mall in a big way. Of course, we do not expect this to happen overnight. It will take some time for the Metro to start operating and for people to get used to it, but in the long term we hope to see a big rise in numbers. So keeping the long-term plan in mind, this link will benefit us, the passengers and the visitors to the mall.”

    As September 9, the launch date of the much-awaited Dubai Metro draws near, the Mall of the Emirates is busy completing its new extension, which will provide passengers with a link to 11 retailers as they make their way from the station to the main mall.

    Among the features that have been designed to ease visitors’ access to the mall is a series of travellators that will move customers along an air-conditioned covered walkway, transporting them comfortably and efficiently from the Metro station to a new retail area that will cater for those last minute purchases on the journey back.

    One of the retailers, Ashish Panjabi, COO, Jacky’s Electronics, said: “In today’s world it all comes down to convenience you provide to customers. During the boom, there used to be long queues of shoppers waiting for taxis outside malls. Now, due to the recession, retailers and malls alike have to offer more services to attract shoppers. The Metro link, the shuttle bus links, etc – will all serve to make the experience of going to the mall better. Customers know where all the outlets of their favourite brands are so when they decide to go to a certain destination they also choose it because of other factors such as food, family entertainment, convenience etc, so this link will give the mall an edge over the others.”

    The Metro entrance to the mall will be on the first floor above Carrefour and there will also be a customer service point, ATMs, and a trolley park along the new link with several new signs around the mall to guide shoppers to the station.

    Sharaf said: “The services that we will be providing have been well researched and thought through. We have a good creative team and we have years of experience in the retail business. So based on our research, experience and creativity, we came up with the idea to have these conveniences in place for customers. You just have to step off the platform, make your way to the travellator and you are inside the mall within a couple of minutes.”

    Looking forward for more such links all over Dubai, Deepika Dudeja, who works as a senior analyst at IDC, said: “Making malls more accessible by Metro is definitely a step in the right direction as most of the time we go to malls because they are a one-stop shop – offering other conveniences such as free and ample parking, an air conditioned and conducive atmosphere for shopping. So the metro link will offer a safe, fast and cheap option for our needs. Even though some big malls such as BurJuman are already on Metro route, I wish the same kind of link that the Mall of the Emirates has would be made available to other malls, too. For example, the Deira City Center is one of the more popular malls and it will help if this mall also has better connectivity. Plus, the Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Center have hotels linked to them, so it is a wonderful convenience for visitors to the emirate.

    “Even though we shop closer to home during the weekdays due to traffic and parking issues, we do shop at the Mall of the Emirates, at least twice a week, mostly over the weekends, because we love the place. I am planning to shift to Jumeirah Lake Towers soon and having a station near by is a blessing. I can hop on the Metro, reach the mall in five minutes, shop and be back home in a jiffy, without spending any money on taxis.”

    Nidhi Dixit, Sensory Panelist, Mars, said: “We use to shop at the Mall of the Emirates when we came to Dubai initially. But now we stick to malls closer home due to traffic problems. However, once the link to the Mall of the Emirates opens we will start going there again as it is an exciting concept.”

    She said: “I wish the government would link other popular places and malls to the Metro, as these kind of initiatives enhance urban mobility and make our lives smoother, faster, while also saving time and money.

    “I also think this will be a great advantage for tourists, who can visit Dubai’s attractions easily without waiting in taxi lines.

    “However, I would like to say that the “last mile” connectivity is important for the success of the Metro, as due to Dubai’s climate, you cannot use Metro all year round. So “last mile” connectivity needs to be addressed as well.”