Apparel and footwear specialist retailers benefited greatly from the relative lack of COVID-19-related restrictions in the United Arab Emirates in 2021. As more people returned to corporate buildings, social events and travelled to the country, sales of apparel and footwear saw a robust rebound compared with the double-digit decline of 2020, although in absolute value terms, in 2021 the sales of apparel and footwear specialist retailers were still below 2019 levels.
In line with trends noted within overall retailing, designer fashion houses are also embracing sustainability. Many major fashion brands, such as Gucci and Stella McCartney, are focused on cultivating a culture of ‘slow luxury’ as a way to differentiate themselves from the environmental impact of fashion.
In 2021, adidas performed strongly in the United Arab Emirates, overtaking Nike in terms of stand-alone store sales. In 2021, Dubai was included in adidas’s 12 key cities, indicating the growth potential of the market.
One of the lessons of the pandemic was the importance of building loyalty and gaining consumer preference information for inventory planning. Most noteworthy was Chalhoub’s Muse loyalty programme, which was launched in 2019, but really only took off in 2021, and has become a well of information which can help attract customers back into stores by providing a new and unique retail experience.
International brands continue to dominate apparel and footwear specialist retailers in the United Arab Emirates. In fact, there are very few products made domestically, or even regionally for that matter, due to a lack of infrastructure and structural support for local manufacturing.
The proportion of sales of apparel and footwear attributed to e-commerce is rapidly growing, as returns and exchanges become easier to do, and customers are increasingly able to buy online and return in-store, hampering the growth of store-based apparel and footwear specialist retailers. However, one of the factors limiting online shopping is the quick uptake of WhatsApp ordering capabilities.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Apparel and Footwear Specialists industry in United Arab Emirates with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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Apparel and footwear specialists are chained or independent retail outlets with a primary focus on selling one or more of the following categories: clothing, footwear, and/or fashion accessories (costume jewellery, sunglasses, belts, hats, gloves, handbags, scarves, etc.). Apparel specialists include specialty apparel like wedding dress shops. Example brands include Primark, TJ Maxx, and Zara. Sportswear retailers, such as Adidas and Nike, are excluded from this channel and are included in Sports Goods Stores; this is due to the companies considering themselves sports companies as opposed to apparel companies.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Apparel and Footwear Specialists research and analysis database.
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