Outlets witness sharp fall in sales of non-food items
March 20 2016 01:44 AM

By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter

A substantial decline in sales of various non-food items continues to affect many business establishments in Qatar, prompting them to embark on aggressive promotions, it is learnt.
Stores selling consumer electronic goods, watches, sport goods and garments are among those hit hard. “Our sales have dropped between 50% and 75% during the first two months of this year, compared to the same period last year,” a representative of a leading consumer electronics brand told Gulf Times, citing the situation at one of its outlets in a popular mall.
Three outlets selling watches in the same shopping centre recorded a drop in sales between 60% and 75% during the same period this year.
“We managed to reach a turnover of only around QR200,000, compared to the monthly target of QR600,000, during January and February this year,” a manager of one of the watch stores explained.
“Sales started to pick up this month compared with the previous months, but it is only a nominal increase,” he said. “The promotions we are offering now also created very less impact.”
He observed that many of their regular customers, which included nurses and some others with high-paying jobs, no longer visited the store.
“I have also observed that the number of people visiting the shopping centre has significantly decreased, especially during weekends, unlike in the first two quarters of 2015,” the manager said.
A supervisor of a leading sports shop chain in Qatar said the sales at one of their best performing shops fell to less than QR2mn from QR8mn per month since the last quarter of 2015.
“The monthly target of this shop is QR6mn and it always used to exceed QR8mn, until the end of 2015,” he recalled.
“The only good thing is that the company is not downsizing; in fact, we are hiring more to work for our new stores in Doha set to open soon,” he said.
He lamented that some sports shops, particularly the smaller ones that sell few brands, had closed while others had to downsize their manpower.
“Our huge profits in the past helped us prepared for such crisis but we have to exert extra efforts to meet our targets,” he added.
About how they managed “to stay afloat”, he felt “having a variety of popular and expensive brands remains to be an advantage because many Qataris prefer them”.
In the garments industry, sales in both high-end and low-end brands have also slowed down but some of their shops still meet monthly targets.
One manager has allayed fears of downsizing their personnel, saying they prefer maintaining the current number. “We invested in our people and sending them back home will be our last option,” he stressed.  
The company has also invested more in improving the quality of its items in all its stores across the country, he said.
“We had to change our supplier and look for one offering better-quality products in order to retain our customer base.” The garment chain is also planning to launch a series of promotions in the coming months to entice customers.

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