Dubai retail sales to boom in 2022 with residents, tourists expected to spend more

Last year’s retail data from Q3 2020 recorded an 8% increase in the average spends per person by tourists.

By Sahim Salim and Waheed Abbas

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories


Published: Wed 26 Jan 2022, 9:44 AM

Last updated: Wed 26 Jan 2022, 9:46 AM

Dubai’s retail sector will continue to expand this year, with growth being driven by Expo 2020 Dubai, residents’ increased spending, and the UAE’s successful Covid vaccination campaign.

In an exclusive write-up for Khaleej Times, Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), noted that the hybrid retail model is gaining currency in the UAE. Social commerce is the next growth frontier for the local and regional players, he added.

He pointed out that with Dubai being one of the world’s leading shopping destinations, the emirate’s extensive retail estate is fuelled by the millions of visitors who travel to the emirate each year.

“Retail sales are set to continue on a growth trajectory in 2022. With Expo 2020 Dubai opening its doors to the world, further supported by the UAE’s successful vaccination programme, last year’s retail data from Q3 2020 recorded an eight per cent increase in the average spends per person by tourists during their stay in Dubai,” said the CEO of the DFRE.

Home to over 62 per cent of the world’s leading retail brands, the emirate has successfully developed a thriving retail industry that, despite the current global challenges, is a major contributor to the UAE, he added.

Strong predictions

A recent report released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has projected the UAE’s retail sales to reach $70.5 billion (Dh259 billion) by 2025 — an annual growth of 6.6 per cent.

Al Khaja revealed that the measures taken to support Dubai’s retail sector — such as waivers on rents and others — have played an integral part in preserving the industry against the impact of the pandemic.

“Shopping malls in Dubai have always adapted to seamlessly integrate many different parts of lifestyle and entertainment outlets into their offering, because in Dubai, the UAE and the wider Gulf region, shopping malls are part of the social fabric, where people go not just to shop, but to socialise. Dubai’s malls specifically are also major global tourist attractions, with major malls receiving more than 80 million visitors annually,” added Al Khaja.

Social commerce

The DFRE chief executive highlighted that social commerce will be the next growth frontier for local retailers, who are already benefitting from e-commerce’s explosive growth over the past few years, especially after the pandemic.

“Another key trend expected to experience significant growth in the next two to five years is social commerce—where retailers use social media channels as mediums to promote and sell products and services. Interestingly, a recent report by Snap says the ‘Snapchat generation’ in the region alone is estimated at $425 billion (Dh1.56 trillion) in spending power. Aside from traditional e-commerce, this social commerce trend could unlock millions more in new revenue,” Al Khaja said.

Hybrid retail model

Al Khaja revealed that the hybrid retail model is gaining currency in the UAE and the region after the outbreak of the pandemic.

“As emerging trends, post-pandemic, continue to uncover a need for innovation that matches evolving consumer behaviours within the retail space, the hybrid retail model seems to have come out on top in terms of popularity with regional consumers,” he said.

Recent reports also indicate a marginal increase in Dubai’s leisure and entertainment sector between Q2 and Q3 of 2021, as consumer appetite for fun experiences went up, and as authorities in Dubai continued to ensure malls were safe for all.


“As the world welcomes a new year, there is a great opportunity to further strengthen Dubai’s position as a retail destination globally. This can be done by creating physical retail experiences that complement virtual ones, together aimed at driving sustainable growth across the retail sector,” Al Khaja concluded.

More news from