The first round of Majid Al Futtaim’s ‘Big City Centre Vote’ has revealed that shoppers prioritise dining, experiential services, family activities, speed and convenience, ‘phygital’ experiences and sustainability.
“Through this ongoing campaign, 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,” said Fuad Sharaf, managing director of Majid Al Futtaim Properties’ UAE Shopping Malls division.
“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.”
Launched in March 2022, the vote has surveyed ten thousand shoppers across City Centre Deira, City Centre Mirdif and City Centres’ online channels (City Centre Deira, City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Al Zahia).
“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?”
Thirty-four percent of shoppers voted for casual dining, 24 per cent for outdoor dining options, and 19 per cent for fine dining, while a third sought more healthy dining outlets.
Shoppers at City Centre Mirdif voted for experiential services, such as cooking classes, to be implemented into malls’ activities.
Parents proposed more children’s activity options to be implemented in malls, with 31 per cent voting for active play areas, arts and crafts workshops and kids’ menus at restaurants.
City Centre Mirdif and online customers opted for hybrid experiences, such as selecting apparel and footwear online and trying them on in-store.
Thirty per cent of shoppers prioritised technology and ‘phygital’ experiences, such as augmented reality.
For instance, parents suggested virtual treasure hunts would entertain children and families.
In addition, customers at City Centre Deira voted for speed and convenience to accompany technology, suggesting for self-checkout, Scan & Go and instant delivery services to be implemented at Carrefour Hypermarket and other stores.
Also prioritised was sustainability and environmental preservation by over 25 per cent of shoppers, with suggestions for more recycling and sustainable fashion options and upcycling stores.
“While the aim of the ‘Big City Centre Vote’ is to understand future preferences, it also looks to recognise topics which most matter to people,” Mr Sharaf told Gulf Business.
“In this category, over a quarter of people so far have cited sustainability and the environment as a priority.”
Shoppers also wanted brands created and operated by Emirati women.
“Supporting local women’s brands is also being selected as the most important way City Centre malls can empower women creators,” added Mr Sharaf.
“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.”