Online grocery shopping grew by 316% in April 2020: Dubai Chamber Report

The report also suggests an unprecedented shift in consumer behavior induced by COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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According to a new analysis published by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, constraints inflicted to restrain the COVID-19 outbreak in the UAE have led to significant changes in consumer behavior in the country.

The study, based on Google Trends data, has evidence that online grocery shopping became the standard for many buyers in the UAE between March and May 2020. Online queries in this category topped during the lockdown period in April, before falling in May as users continued to buy from their favored e-grocery providers through websites and apps.

The increasing interest in e-groceries

Recent data from MasterCard echo the facts mentioned above, as it reveals that online card payments for groceries in UAE saw a 99% y-o-y increase in February, a 252% y-o-y rise in March, and 316% y-o-y exponential improvement in April. Popular search queries that recorded the biggest jump in search numbers include “online grocery”, and “grocery delivery”.

Distance learning dominates

The findings revealed a trend of UAE dwellers seeking online courses as they focused on improving their skills and knowledge. Searches for “online courses” topped in April 2020, before dropping in May. This decline is expected, and may not be translated as a decline in interest, but rather a consequence of users discovering suitable courses in April and engaging with them in May resulting in a lower number of searches in the category.

Shift to telecommuting

An unexpected interest in telecommuting happened in March as a notable share of companies chose work from home protocols. The number of searches for “work from home in Dubai” climbed before slowly fading once consumers became familiar with remote working processes and tools.

The transformation to flexible working is one of the chief determinants pushing greater incidences of online searches for furniture as demand for home office workspaces developed among residents.

Adopting staycation

“Staycation”, referring to a vacation and leisure activities close to home, was another favorite term found in search engines over the last few months. The halt of international travel due to measures executed to restrain the ongoing pandemic and the Eid holidays corresponding with summer months were among the key factors feeding this trend.

Conforming to a ‘new normal’

The above-mentioned trends may become the “new normal” for consumers in the UAE as the population adapts its spending behavior in a post-corona era, the review denotes.

“With more businesses joining the race to capture these emerging trends, the need for digitalization has become more crucial than ever to gain efficiency and flexibility; with those successfully integrating technological solutions into their existing operations’ processes and supply chain management systems potentially gaining a major competitive advantage in the new COVID-19-shaped competitive landscape,” the study closes.