46% of UAE consumers see COVID-19 impact on retail shopping till 2022; Survey

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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About 46 percent of UAE consumers expect the COVID-19 pandemic to affect retail behavior in 2022 also, as people focus on essential purchases, according to a survey by Kearney.

The study found that nearly 73 percent of consumers said that they had altered their shopping habits during the pandemic, with the changes being more prominent among women (81 percent) than men (67 percent).

Eight in ten respondents between the ages of 30 and 45 stated that their shopping habits had changed, the highest of any age group. They were closely followed by those under 30 years (73 percent).

The study on consumer shopping habits pointed out that mass vaccinations would be critical for encouraging consumers to shop in public retail spaces once more. About 28 percent of participants in the survey opined that protective and social distancing measures were crucial for bringing back the confidence of shoppers.

Debashish Mukherjee
Debashish Mukherjee
Partner & Head
Consumer & Retail
Kearney Middle East

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way consumers view health and safety measures and efforts. As residents adapt to the new normal, hygiene and hygiene transparency have become vital. Spending is being driven by the easing of restrictions, higher awareness of health and wellbeing and expectations of a return to the office.”

The study, based on data from Euromonitor, said eCommerce’s retail share will grow to $8 billion by 2025. This will be supported by rising income, high internet penetration, well-developed logistics, modern digital payment systems, a tech-savvy youth and strong government support, according to Dubai Chamber.

However, it is expected that consumers will remain cautious about shopping, with their spending preference limited to essential items like food and beverages. Spending on non-essential items such as clothes, bags and accessories continues to decline, the survey found.

Discretionary spending dropped by 41 percent while 34 percent of respondents said spending on essentials was up more than 25 percent. Consumers were also shown to have a marked preference for high-quality essentials.

However, spending on non-essentials will probably recover, with 21 percent of respondents saying that they expect to spend more on activewear (31 percent), workwear (30 percent), casual wear (20 percent), footwear (20 percent), evening wear (17 percent) and accessories (8 percent) in the coming months.

“For UAE consumers, convenience is driving online purchases, with COVID-19 concerns becoming a secondary factor, indicating the sustenance of the online shift. However, the physical shop still plays a strong role across all categories which require the customer to touch, feel and try the product,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

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