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Almost half of UAE consumers to maintain current shopping habits post COVID-19

The survey of 1,000 respondents based across the UAE and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) 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

79% of UAE respondents have admittedly changed their shopping habits amid COVID-19 developments Consumers in UAE have increased online spending for essential (57%) and non-essential (64%) items UAE consumers prefer shopping in-store at supermarkets for essentials (34%)

A survey commissioned by Kearney Middle East reveals that 79% of consumers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 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, 48% answered yes.  

Out of the 500 UAE respondents, 60% claimed that they spend more on essential products including groceries, food, healthcare and wellness items than they did before the pandemic. Despite the 24-hour lockdown, visiting a supermarket was revealed as the preferred method of shopping (34%), followed by online (27%), neighborhood grocery/ convenience stores (22%) and hypermarkets (17%). However, consumers are increasingly turning to online shopping with over half (57%) of respondents spending more online than they did before.

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Unlike the UAE, the most popular purchase channel among respondents in KSA was online (37%), followed by supermarkets (24%), hypermarkets (23%) and neighborhood grocery/convenience stores (16%). 

When questioned about the criteria for purchasing essential products, UAE respondents highlighted excellent quality (36%) and availability (36%) as the most important factors, followed by price (28%). 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 education and books being the most popular (23%). This was followed by the entertainment category – music and movies (21%), electronics (17%), home improvement and decoration (15%), fashion and beauty (12%) and toys and games (12%). Online shopping was the most preferred method for purchasing (45%), with almost two thirds (64%) of respondents spending more on non-essentials than they did previously. 

Read: Saudi Arabia turns to e-commerce during Covid-19 outbreak

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. Though UAE consumers mainly opt for traditional supermarket shopping for the essentials, the survey highlights a growing demand for online shopping. 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.”