UAE retail sector numbers are showing some heavy growth patterns. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: UAE’s retail sector is showing more signs of a sharp rebound in consumer spending and confidence, according to Majid Al Futtaim in its latest industry update.

In fact, consumer confidence in the UAE has reached its highest level in 10 years, with overall spending well ahead of levels last seen before the pandemic. The report, citing point-of-sale data, said consumer spending increased by 7 per cent in the third quarter and even exceeded levels seen in 2019.

The data further points to a significant improvement in both the frequency and level of consumer comfort in visiting malls, where year-on-year footfall in the third quarter improved 18 per cent between 2020 and 2021. General retail categories saw consumer spending grow 6 per cent between the second quarter and the third quarter of 2021, mainly driven by an 18 per cent increase in spending on electronics. This mirrors a similar pre-pandemic uptick in electronics spending in 2019.

Online more than holds up

E-commerce also continued to gain momentum across UAE. Data revealed that the overall value of e-commerce sales in the third quarter was 34 per cent higher than the same period in 2020, with consumers spending a quarter more on e-commerce in the year to September compared to the same period in 2020.

The fashion sector was a major contributor, with an increase of 170 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier. Carrefour e-food sales in the UAE increased 171 per cent during January to end September compared with the same period last year, with over 1.4 million orders fulfilled.

“t is clear to see the tremendous progress the UAE has made in recovering from the impact of a global pandemic,” said Alain Bejjani, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim. “We must continue to challenge ourselves to innovate in this space, ensuring we can continue to meet the evolving behaviours, wants and needs of our communities today, tomorrow and for years to come.”

Entertainment sector too

A desire for fun experiences after the easing of pandemic measures has also meant a boost for the leisure and entertainment sector, which recorded a growth of more than 4 per cent. Hotels bucked the trend in the hospitality sector, with an 11 per cent increase in consumer spend. VOX Cinemas recorded strong growth for the home delivery of movie snacks such as popcorn, nachos and slushies. Sales recorded this year to September were 38 per cent higher than those recorded in 2020.

“Looking forward, tourism is picking up across the region and looks set to continue into the fourth quarter as travel restrictions relax even further, and a major boost is expected from Expo 2020 Dubai opening its doors to the world, further supported by the UAE’s highly successful vaccination programme,” said the report.