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69% of KSA consumers to maintain current shopping habits post COVID-19

The survey of 1,000 respondents based across the KSA and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was conducted from April 5-9, following the introduction of the 24-hour movement restrictions enforced by the respective governments to curb the spread of COVID-19 last week

95% of KSA respondents have admittedly changed their shopping habits amid COVID-19 developments KSA consumers in lockdown now spending more online on essential (68%) and non-essential (54%) items The most popular purchase channel for UAE respondents is supermarkets (34%) despite movement restrictions

A survey commissioned by Kearney Middle East reveals that 95% of respondents in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have admittedly changed their shopping habits during COVID-19 developments, spending more online they would have previously. When asked if they would maintain current shopping habits after the pandemic, 69% answered yes. 

Out of the 500 KSA respondents, 71% claimed that they are spending more on essential products including groceries, food, healthcare and wellness items than they did before the pandemic. ‘Online’ was revealed as the preferred method of shopping (37%), followed by visiting a supermarket (24%), hypermarket (23%) or neighborhood grocery/convenience stores (16%). In addition to this, over two thirds (68%) of respondents estimate that they are now spending more online than they did previously.

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Similarly, over half of respondents in UAE (57%) have also increased online spend. However, the majority still prefer to shop at supermarkets (34%), with online shopping (27%) being the second most-popular purchase channel followed by neighborhood grocery/ convenience stores (22%) and hypermarkets (17%).

When questioned about the criteria for purchasing essential products, KSA respondents highlighted excellent quality (35%) as the most important factor, followed by availability (33%) and price (32%). This highlights that consumers are not trading down to lower price points, counter to general perception.

Expenditure on non-essential items has also increased since the lockdown, with the entertainment category (music and movies) being the most popular (54%). This was followed by education and books (51%), toys and games (49%), home improvement and decoration (41%), fashion and beauty (29%) and electronics (26%). Online shopping was also the preferred method for purchasing (43%), with over half (54%) of respondents spending more on non-essential items than they did previously.

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Commenting on the survey results, Debashish Mukherjee, Partner & Head, Consumer Industries and Retail Practice at Kearney Middle East said: “Recent developments related to COVID-19 and measures being taken by governments to protect their communities around the world has impacted retail habits, which for the first time we have quantitative evidence to say, will stay in reasonable measure even after this phase is over. The survey highlights a growing demand for online shopping in KSA, with consumers spending more on both essential and non-essential items during this period. This will undoubtedly shape the future of the industry by both accelerating the growth of online retail / e-commerce and driving a resurgence in local neighborhood supermarkets and stores.”