KUWAIT: Not only smaller businesses, but also some well-known stores are shutting down, leaving their customers very disappointed, especially if they were used to shopping from these stores for years. The first disappearance of shops that were in the market for many years started months after the financial crisis in 2008. Some stores resisted, but only for a few more years. This was first seen at the Avenues Mall due to the extremely high rents, where many stores shut down.
The closures are particularly related to the fashion business, after stores of small companies closed at The Avenues a few months back. Also, over five stores of one company shut down. This company dealt with various luxury brands, and finally kept only two stores at The Avenues. It recently closed its store at Arraya Mall and its huge outlet in Salmiya. It still runs three stores in Salhiya Complex, a few stores in Thuraya and two at Gate Mall.
Many employees lost their jobs due to this crisis, and customers are very disappointed over not being able to shop in their favorite stores. They fear that the rest of the stores of this company will shut down too. Not only local stores, but international brands are also vanishing. After 2009, many global brands stopped manufacturing on a large scale, and limited their production to small collections that are only available online.
Online shopping and social media play a great role in competing with small businesses. Many people who are not obsessed with shopping and are not big fans of going to the market and the malls find it much easier to shop online, which from their point of view, saves time, effort, fuel, etc. On some sites, they can find almost everything they need cheaper than in the stores. Also, competition by businesses using social media and providing delivery hit the business of many shops. Vendors running home businesses through Instagram and other apps do not have to pay expensive monthly rentals and salaries, so they have a chance to offer better prices.
The most recent shops that closed were at Muneera Complex in Salmiya, which houses mostly cosmetics shops. Marcel, a saleslady at one of the last two fashion stores there, said that she expects the store where she works to shut down soon, as sales are weak, especially after three other fashion and accessories stores closed a few weeks back. “This complex turned into a place with cosmetic shops, while in the beginning it was a mall with mostly fashion stores and only one shop for cosmetics. Our sales are bad, and I think that the owner sells goods online. The complex even increased the rent although we have very poor sales,” she told Kuwait Times.
By Nawara Fattahova