Non Smoking areas in Dubai malls equals extra profit

Mrs Saul and I ended up spending a fair amount of time over the last two days in one of Dubai’s newest and most impressive shopping malls.
The building’s pristine, the finish excellent, the choice of shops and eateries world class. But the mall stinks like an East End pub at closing time.
The lack of consideration shown by smokers is astonishing – people smoke everywhere, in the walkways, in some shops and even on the escalator. What a lovely way to finish off a nice evening at the cinema – inhaling someone else’s fag smoke all the whole way down to the next floor! What a nice way to spend 5 minutes window shopping – breathing in someone else’s cigarette as they waddle past, flicking ash on your feet! What marketing genius to encourage such an atmosphere!
I’m not asking for a smoking ban. Let’s simply start with defined smoking and non-smoking areas first and work from there.
Forget emotion and medical fact as well – instead, let’s get down to some Dubai style simple business factors.
I reckon about 85% of the mall’s visitors smoke in the mall. I expect 30+% of the mall’s visitors are smokers, but 15% of them aren’t rude, so they don’t smoke inside. Of those 15% of smoking visitors, I would guess that around 90% are men and of those most are single men.
I’m not a retail expert, but I expect that the majority of purchases in the mall are made by women. I also expect that the visitors with a higher average spend are women – especially women with children in tow, as they are more likely to buy items for themselves and their family as well as to drop into cafes to keep the kids fed and watered.
The single, smoking men, are typically not your high spenders, in my opinion. It’s not something I’d do voluntarily, but they seem to like spending their free time wandering around shopping malls, smoking, burbling into their mobile phones and generally not spending money.
So what situation do we have here? The mall’s best customers are typically non-smoking women with children and non-smokers of both gender. I would bet that most of that demographic find the smoky atmosphere profoundly irritating. I would also bet that the smoke actively puts them off spending more time in their local malls.
So how do we get our best customers to come to the mall more often? How about, gasp, making the mall a more pleasant place to go?
Create some smoking areas so smokers aren’t put off – they can enjoy some camaraderie over a coffee! Snoking dads and boyfriends can escape trawling around with wives and girlfriends and actually spend some money for a change, even if it is only on a cup of tea in the corner of the foodhall. Everyone else can enjoy their visit to a mainly smoke-free mall and consider coming back again more often now that it’s a nicer place to be.
I guarantee that the first mall in Dubai to implement a no-smoking policy that covers general areas, whilst allowing for some smoking zones, will see a rise in its profits. It will be more popular with residents and more popular with visitors, as guide books single it out as one of the few places you can go without coming out smelling like that East End pub*. It might even be just as popular with those who used to smoke in it. Most of those smokers aren’t coming for somewhere nice to smoke, they just happen to be able to, so they do. They might not even have ever considered that flicking ash on the person behind you, or sparking up on the travelator was rude or moronic. No matter, now they simply won’t do it.
So, whose going to be the first? Step up to the mark and start making more money, mall managers.
(*Don’t get me wrong, I like East End pubs. I just don’t like it when the shopping mall I visit smells like one.)


7 Responses to “Non Smoking areas in Dubai malls equals extra profit”

  1. Calum Says:

    Of course, East End pubs won’t smell like East End pubs after July 1st either 🙂

  2. secretdubai Says:

    Amen – this has been driving me insane.
    What is worse is the amount of restaurants that have actually decreased their non-smoking areas. Japengo MoE, for example, has smoking all over the interior area next to the kitchen. Hediard Ibn Batt reduced its non-smoking area to a couple of interior areas. And the other day we tried that Salmontini place, and while our air was smoke free (our table was on a platform and A/C was good, we just stared in amazement at two girls on a smoking table who chainsmoked the entire meal. Even while they were eating. Now that is something that I rarely see even among heavier smokers.
    When it comes to smoking, this is a very third world region. And western smokers get just as bad and inconsiderate. I saw people smoking on anti-cancer and heart hospital stands at Arab Health, despite prominent No Smoking signs all over. I have seen a woman blow smoke into a pram while she watched a baby. I have shot of a woman holding a baby in one arm, a cigarette in her other hand right next to it.
    It makes going overseas increasingly wonderful – just to be free of it.

  3. weeble Says:

    Europe is hardly any better… well, slightly in that most of the time, people are not smoking in the shopping malls. But… you have to run the gauntlet of smokers crowded around the entrances. In the Netherlands for example, it’s a common sight in the airport to see people smoking all over inside the terminal… this is despite the large prominent No Smoking signs in several languages, and the constant announcements that it is a non-smoking airport.
    I detest 2nd hand smoke, but find I have little choice but to endure it. 😦 If only I could find something equally offensive that I could do to the smokers 🙂

  4. Reg Says:

    Oh here we go! The ranting non-smokers again. Forgetting (not that Chris did) that the vast majority of us smokers wouldn’t dream of blowing smoke at a non-smoker. And, if you ban us from smoking inside and it’s excessively cold/hot outside, where do you think we’ll smoke? Why, at the entrance!
    Did you know that you are several times more likely to die in a road accident than you are to contract ANY kind of disease from second-hand smoke? And not just in the UAE. Not to speak of the pollution and general bad smell that they cause all the time. Perhaps we should ban all automobiles….
    Or at least have a good rant at EVERY available opportunity against those selfish enough to actually drive them, forgetting all those who operate them with consideration towards other people.

  5. Chris Says:

    I think Dubai Airport does it well. There are several smoking areas with smoke inhaling fans and the lounges have smoking areas.
    By my reckoning the dangers of second hand smoke don’t bother non-smokers particularly, it’s the smell that bothers people.
    Reg, you’ll be welcome to smoke on our balcony when we move in to the new place – we’ll even buy an ashtray just for your exclusive use!

  6. Freedom Matters Says:

    Exactly Reg – a little tolerance rather than bans makes more sense. The non smoker can simply choose to be where the smokers are. That includes simply not going to Dubai if that’s the case.
    Besides, if we’re going to ban something, let’s ban bans!

  7. weeble Says:

    I never said anything about health and dangers of second hand smoke. Cig. smoke stinks. My clothing stinks after I’ve been around someone smoking. I actually don’t go “out on the town” because of smokers… and most non-smokers I know are the same. I haven’t been to a nightclub or a pub in Europe in years. 😦 Kinda miss it.
    As for the vast majority of smokers who wouldn’t dream of blowing smoke at a non-smoker… maybe you don’t, but I see it every single day. I ride the train to work. The train pulls into a non-smoking train station with 50% of the people on the platform smoking. They get into the train while taking that last desperate drag on the fag, and toss the butt out on the platform… and then exhale a wonderful cloud of smoke into the train cabin. Really stinks up the place.
    Simply put, I choose not to smoke. I’m smart enough to know better. I do not appreciate having to breathe the exhaled smoke of other people. While you (Reg) may be one of the very rare smokers who is actually considerate of non-smokers wishes, you are a rare breed. I wish more smokers thought like you. Us ranting non-smokers would have less to rant about. Sadly most smokers don’t give a flying hoot, or it simply never occurs to them that the smoke they breathe out is really bothering those around them.

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