By Ed Attwood

The Dubai Mall, one of the world’s biggest shopping centres, saw footfall increase last year by around 27 percent over 2009, despite the economic crisis.

Dubai Mall posted the largest rise in traffic with a massive 47m visitors in 2010
Dubai Mall posted the largest rise in traffic with a massive 47m visitors in 2010

Data provided to Arabian Business by operator Emaar showed that the Downtown Dubai mall hosted over 47m visitors during 2010, up from an estimated 37m in 2009.

Emaar – like other mall operators in the emirate – did not release revenue figures for the mall’s operations last year, but indicated that its overall retail and shopping division posted revenues of $517m in 2010.

By comparison, footfall increases in other competing malls in Dubai remained relatively modest.

The Mall of the Emirates, which is operated by Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Properties, saw overall footfall increase by an estimated 1.3 percent to 31m in 2010. Data provided by property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield showed that Dubai’s second biggest shopping centre hosted 30.6m visitors in 2009.

A spokesperson said that around 90 percent of the visitors to Mall of the Emirates were residents, with increased visitor numbers from the Far East and Russia boosted by the launch of the Fashion Dome last year.

Similarly, Dubai Festival City – run by the Al Futtaim Group – also saw a one percent increase in footfall during last year.

“In what can be read as a sign of good business health, Festival Centre, the retail precinct of Dubai Festival City…has recorded an annual average footfall of 24 million amidst fierce competition and a market that hasn’t fully recovered from recession, reflecting a 1% growth in footfall compared to the previous year,” said Bernice Boshoff, general manager of Festival Centre, Dubai Festival City – Al Futtaim Group Real Estate (AFGRE).

Festival Centre reported that 60 percent of its visitors were Arab, with the remaining 40 percent consisting of Asians, followed by Westerners, Iranians, Russians and other minorities. The mall also reported a strong increase in visitors from China.

In its first year of operation, MAF Properties’ Mirdif City Centre reported 20m visitors.

The BurJuman Mall, in Bur Dubai, declined to release footfall figures for 2010.

“While there has been no sales or turnover data released, anecdotal evidence from credit card sales and centre footfall suggests the retail sector received a major boost from the Dubai Shopping Festival held in January and February 2011,” said a first-quarter report from Jones Lang LaSalle about the Dubai retail sector.

“Retailers have generally become more cautious in their expansion plans but some continue to explore new business opportunities.”