Fuad Sharaf, Managing Director, UAE Shopping Malls, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, comments: “As a company pioneering experiences through our shopping malls, we are constantly being pushed to innovate our offering and revitalise our assets.”
“Historical shifts in consumer behaviour coupled with the impact of the pandemic has us asking: what will drive people back into malls, what types of retail trends will develop, and crucially, what do communities want from their malls?”
“We know consumers are looking for new points of engagement and authentic direct-to-consumer brands, but we wanted to dig deeper and really understand what our communities are looking for at their local community mall.”
“So, in a momentous shift, we are putting the future direction of our City Centre malls brand directly into the hands of our customers. Through this ongoing Big City Centre Vote, we are giving our communities a seat at the boardroom table and enabling them to give us the insights and feedback we need to create ideal future mall spaces.”
“We are continuing to host several community groups to truly enable customers to express their needs and look forward to reporting back as we take these results and implement them to create customised City Centres.”
The initiative confirms trends that have been evolving rapidly in the past two years; that mall visitors are increasingly looking for speed, convenience, touchless technology and safety, personalisation, as well as a blend of physical and digital experiences that allow them to have a more streamlined and seamless journey.
When asked about their future shopping preferences, a majority of those shopping at City Centre Mirdif, and online said they would most like a hybrid experience which would allow them to choose products online and then try them on in-store. Instead, those from City Centre Deira are opting for more Scan & Go and self-check-out facilities.
Likewise, convenience and speed continue as a prominent theme throughout. When asked to rank what is important when ordering online, the majority are ranking ‘instant delivery’ as the most important.
Alongside technologies that enable seamless experiences, tech driven experiential concepts are also coming up as front of mind for respondents — who are voting to see more virtual and augmented reality experiences made available.
For example, 30% (of respondents from City Centre Deira, Mirdif and Al Zahia online) have said they would find ‘escaping to a virtual world’ most fun.
Elsewhere, parents at City Centre Deira and Mirdif say they believe their kids would most likely enjoy mall treasure hunts in AR.