Posted on September 08, 2017

Qatar’s retail sector has substantially benefited from the recently concluded Qatar Summer Festival (QSF) 2017 and the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays, attracting a large number of shoppers during the off-peak period amid the economic blockade, it is learnt.

Nearly all kinds of businesses, from candy and chocolate stalls to high-end boutiques, registered good footfall for more than two months, a number of employees working for these stores told Gulf Times. An optometrist in one of the optical shops at Doha Festival City said the promotions and special discounts during the festival enticed many customers to buy new items such as glasses and frames.

“We got a lot of orders even prior to Eid al-Fitr, but QSF and the Eid breaks further boosted our sales,” she noted, adding that many residents opted to stay and shop in Doha than in other countries this year. Asked if they were affected by the economic blockade imposed on Qatar by the Saudi-led bloc, she pointed out that they recorded a slight slowdown in the demand only during the first 10 days of the siege. The days that followed, she stressed, saw operations normalise in all their branches across the country despite the absence of customers from traditional sources such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

This was echoed by an employee at a leading cosmetics boutique in the same mall, saying that residents (mostly female) shopped more often from the onset of the summer season until the first week of September. “Ladies normally allot a considerable budget for cosmetics and people here are knowledgeable about the products they use,” she noted, citing that Korean and European brands are among the most popular in Qatar. The company also operates a number of branches in other malls. The employee noted that their sales surged both before and during the Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha holidays.

She expressed confidence that this trend would continue in the coming weeks until the winter season, a peak period for many businesses in the country. Residents are also anticipating the second edition of the month-long Shop Qatar, an initiative of Qatar Tourism Authority and its partners aimed at energising the retail sector and providing a unique shopping experience during the winter season in the country. The event also helps in supporting local entrepreneurs (home-based) to promote their unique products, as well as to showcase their creativity, via pop-up stores located in different participating malls across Qatar.

Meanwhile, Mall of Qatar (MoQ) general manager Rony Mourani disclosed in a statement that they attracted more than half a million visitors during the Eid al-Adha celebrations alone, which featured an array of entertainment shows, fun-filled activities and QSF’s mega raffle draw. Other malls also witnessed an increasing number of Omani and Kuwaiti visitors, particularly during the Eid breaks, as well as people of other nationalities granted the free-visa facility. This further boosted both the retail, hospitality and food & beverage sectors in the country.

A restaurant employee at Souq Waqif told Gulf Times that they were planning to offer more varieties of dishes soon in preparation for the winter season, when more foreign tourists are expected to visit Doha. “We start to receive a lot of customers, including families, when the temperature goes down,” he pointed out. “Winter is already a windfall for us with or without this blockade.”

 source: Gulf Times

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