The opening of Apple’s first stores in the UAE tomorrow will give the electronics retail sector a much-needed shot in the arm, analysts said.
The outlets at Dubai’s Mall of Emirates (MoE) and Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall will open to the public this week, but yesterday the company allowed invited media guests to sample the stores ahead of the official opening. Apple did not take questions at the event.
The GCC’s electronics market has been booming, with an estimated retail sales value of US$11.8 billion this year, forecast to reach $14bn by 2020, according to Euromonitor International.
However, some retailers have suggested the public appetite for the sector has cooled, citing tepid sales through Eid.
A survey in September from Plug Ins, found that UAE household spending on electronics fell to Dh4,000 this year from Dh4,793 in September 2014.
The launch of two Apple stores on the same day in the same country however, a first since 2001, is thought to be a good business move with Euromonitor forecasting a 2 to 5 percentage gain as a consequence.
“The launch of two Apple stores will definitely have strong effect on adoption of Apple devices in the region,” said Nikola Kosutic, research manager at Euromonitor International. “Situated in two popular malls, Apple stores will benefit from the high footfalls, a willingness of customers to travel to reach the stores and proverbially high level of customer support, both during purchase and post-purchase.
“Comparing Apple’s share in the GCC smartphones market with Apple holding 19 per cent in relation to the world market where Apple holds 15 per cent we can conclude that the company’s position in GCC is relatively strong owing mostly to consumer behaviour factors.”
Apple now has 466 stores in 17 countries and for its UAE launch is offering ladies-only workshops for those who wish to better understand the products. The MoE store is fronted with pivotal doors designed by the architect Foster + Partners, and there will be 150 staff between Dubai and Abu Dhabi of 30 different nationalities, speaking 40 different languages. The stores will stock more than 150 Apple products.
“Dubai is the second most brand-penetrated city after London,” said Matt Jay, retail and commercial agent for the property consultancy CBRE. “It is astonishing that it has taken this long for Apple to arrive. The company has obviously targeted footfall and consumer spending to sit in MoE, Yas Mall and eventually Dubai Mall. It is the world’s No 1 retail brand and most valuable company. I see the stores as enhancing one of the premier retail destinations in the world by bringing a new customer experience to the UAE.”
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