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GCC consumers: Bigger malls not necessarily more appealing

Large malls in Dubai

Research highlights several obstacles to shopping online.

October 22, 2013 3:39 by

Dubai might be famous for its jumbo shopping malls, but a recent study suggests that bigger malls are not necessarily more appealing to GCC consumers than smaller ones.

The in-depth report, released by research firm Roland Berger last month, reveals that the differentiation of the shopping experience in malls is becoming increasingly challenging, with the majority of respondents saying they feel all malls are alike.

Fifty six per cent of respondents in the UAE say they would prefer an all-year discount mall, while 51 per cent state they wish there were smaller malls because “bigger is not really better”.

Even then many find shopping malls in the country appealing, as 53 per cent say that going to a mall is their favourite leisure activity.

That figure is similar across other Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia (57 per cent), Kuwait (44 per cent) and Qatar (45 per cent).

Some of the highlights of the report include:

- Bricks and mortar clearly dominates the retail landscape; yet, multi-channel is pitching up across countries to varying degrees, from 16 per cent to 42 per cent.

– Approximately half of online shoppers state intention to buy (more) through the web.

– Majority of people state they feel online payment has become more secure – especially the current ‘click’ credit systems.

– Online shoppers value benefits apart from delivery and price, especially reviews and variety – opening up opportunities for differentiation.

Why aren’t customers shopping online?

The report indicates that consumers – both online and physical shoppers –feel that online payment has become much more secure.

In fact, 45 per cent of the bricks and mortar group say they will buy online in the future. However, an alarmingly high percentage of them across the GCC region still insist that they have several reasons not to shop online.

Eighty four per cent of respondents in the UAE say their main reason for not shopping online is due to their inability to visually inspect the product they want.

Other reasons – which were relatively similar across other Gulf countries – include: dull shopping experience, complicated logistics, waiting time and a complex return policy.

The full report can be viewed here.

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