Shoppers at a supermarket in the UAE. Despite the 24-hour lockdown, UAE consumers said visiting a supermarket was the preferred method of shopping. Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

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

Dubai: A survey commissioned by Kearney Middle East reveals that 79 per cent of consumers in the 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 per cent answered yes.

The survey of 1,000 respondents based across the UAE and Saudi Arabia 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.

“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,” said Debashish Mukherjee, Partner & Head, Consumer Industries and Retail Practice at Kearney Middle East.

Debashish Mukherjee

Out of the 500 UAE respondents, 60 per cent 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 per cent), followed by online (27 per cent), neighborhood grocery/ convenience stores (22 per cent) and hypermarkets (17 per cent). However, consumers are increasingly turning to online shopping with over half (57 per cent) of respondents spending more online than they did before.

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

When questioned about the criteria for purchasing essential products, UAE respondents highlighted excellent quality (36 per cent) and availability (36 per cent) as the most important factors, followed by price (28 per cent). This highlights that consumers are not trading down to lower price points counter to general perception.

”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,” said Mukherjee.