DSF face-off: iPhone 6 vs Samsung Note Edge

Smartphone is by far hottest selling category this DSF. (Supplied)

With less than a week to go before the conclusion of the month-long Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), the deals and discounts have become red hot and sales activity is now at its peak, say Dubai’s electronics retailers.

Ask any retailer, and they’d tell you that the final week of the DSF sees the most frantic sales activity as residents and tourists who may have been evaluating the deals finally make up their mind and vote for their favourite brand or device with their wallets.

“From now until the end of the DSF, sales should peak and generate the numbers,” says Neelesh Bhatnagar, chief executive of Emax Electronics.

“The final 10 days are exceptionally good as residents who’ve been evaluating the deals over the first 20 days get active and make their purchases, especially during the final ‘salary weekend’ of the month,” says Nadeem Khanzadah, Head of OmniChannel Retail, Jumbo Electronics, a Dubai-based electronics retailer.

“The last 10 days are actually the biggest contributor of the season,” he avers, especially as it coincides with the end-of-price-point promotions.

“Going by the results so far, we are expecting the next two weeks to be even better in terms of sales,” says Mahesh Chotrani, Assistant Vice-President, Jacky’s Electronics.

“We are expecting the sales of the last 12 days of the DSF to be equivalent to the sales of the first 20 days,” he says.

“Sales performance during DSF has been strong so far and we’re pacing to exceed our expectations slightly,” adds Sean Connor, General Manager of Plug Ins, Dubai-based Al Futtaim Group’s multi-brand electronics and IT retailer.

Ask them about the hottest selling categories this DSF, and Dubai’s retail heads are unanimous in their choice of device – it’s the ubiquitous smartphone that has been selling like proverbial hotcakes.

“Smartphone is by far the hottest selling category, taking much of the customer’s wallet share,” says Bhatnagar. Jumbo’s Khanzadah too lists smartphones at the top of the hottest selling categories. “Mobile phones have done well generally this DSF,” he maintains.

“Smartphones has by far been the leader and is the hottest selling category,” agrees Niranjan Gidwani, Deputy CEO, Eros Group, another Dubai-based electronics retailer. “There is an increase in the demand for smartphones,” echoes Jacky’s Chotrani.

Among smartphones, the retailers again seem to agree on the top-selling names, which are Apple and Samsung, and a host of new entrants, especially the Chinese entry-level brands.

“The iPhone 6 has really been the big seller for us – both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus – are selling well, with customers getting used to the bigger screen sizes,” says Khanzadah.

“The Galaxy Note Edge too has been selling well for us, especially after Samsung launched the scheme with the ‘Dh1,000 gift vouchers’,” he adds. “The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has done well, as has the Sony Xperia Z3 and the HTC M8, among the premium smartphones,” Khanzadah lists.

“In the affordable segment, Oppo [a Chinese brand], has begun showing good numbers, as well as Obi [India-headquartered brand backed by former Apple CEO John Sculley],” he adds.

“Smartphones have been a key driver this DSF. With new Chinese brands making way into this category, customers have benefitted from a wide variety of price and brand offerings to suit every kind of pocket,” maintains Eros’ Gidwani.

“In smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has been a trendsetter. Its latest Note Edge version has also found traction with a better pricing strategy,” he adds.

“Smartphones as a category has performed exceptionally well this year and mobiles have been extremely popular with customers,” says Plug Ins’ Connor. “New launches such as the Note 4 Edge and iPhone 6 continue to deliver strong sales in smartphones,” he adds.

“The major change we’ve seen in this landscape is the increasing fragmentation caused by all the new entrants. We’ve seen brands like Huawei and Lenovo cut into smartphone market share across all price points,” adds Connor.

“Overall, this largely impacts mid- to low-end price points with the leading brands. Average price points on flagship models continue to be strong for the leading brands,” he says.

“The iPhone 6, Samsung Edge, the Huawei Honor 5c and Lenovo Vibe X2,” are the top selling devices for Jacky’s Chotrani.

“Our bestseller by far at this year’s DSF is the Fly Dune IQ4503,” says Abdul Jabbar Shahnawaz, Vice President Marketing, Fly MEA, a European manufacturer of entry-level smartphones. He goes on to list the phone’s features, including the 5-inch display, and says the Android device priced at Dh333 is proving popular.

For Amit Rupchandani, Obi Mobiles’ MEA Managing Director, it’s the Hornsbill S551 priced at Dh599 that’s the bestseller this DSF. “We’re not competing with Apple,” he says, but quickly adds that, with the Android operating system, the brands that Obi is trying to “go closer to” are “Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo and LG”.

Emax’ Bhatnagar maintains that the DSF has been extremely positive for the Dubai-based electronics retailer, starting as it did with a big bang over the New Year’s weekend.

“As always, it then slowed down during the middle period of the DSF, and then it picks up once again towards the end,” he adds.

“DSF has never failed to deliver in the past, and we expect the same this year as well, with the first 10 days being really good for us,” maintains Nadeem Khanzadah, Head of OmniChannel Retail, Jumbo Electronics, a Dubai-based electronics retailer.

“As traditionally happens, the next 10 days witnessed a slight lull as tourists return to their home countries after spending Christmas/New Year’s in Dubai,” he says but adds that the final 10 days are when the activity peaks.

“DSF has been phenomenal – we have already witnessed a 30 per cent increase in sales volumes compared to December, and we only expect this figure to grow further as the DSF enters its last week,” adds Fly MEA’s Shahnawaz.

On the other hand, Eros Group, another Dubai-based electronics retailer, says the DSF 2015 has been challenging yet successful. “DSF this year has been a successful one albeit with some challenges,” says Eros Group’s Gidwani.

“Eros Group is on target to achieve its numbers as we had identified the challenges and taken cautious targets with a reasonable growth projection. We are happy to achieve our numbers as it sets a strong foundation for 2015,” he says.

The challenges that Gidwani alludes to may be that a section of regular tourists during DSF – especially Russian visitors – may be missing in action this year, besides the fact that with the US dollar and therefore the UAE dirham becoming stronger over the past few months, tourists spend may be slowing down.

“The start has been pretty reasonable although we saw lesser number of Russian tourists this season than expected,” Khanzadah acknowledges.

“DSF’s reputation as one of the world’s most sought-after shopping festivals, which consistently draws a remarkable number of shoppers to Dubai, coupled with the fact that the festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has really driven footfalls into the stores of our retail partners,” concludes Fly MEA’s Shahnawaz.

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