Shoppers at the Dubai Mall. Numbers being crunched by Network International show that UAE residents continue to spend come rain or shine. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: For many people, the days of maxing out credit cards and impulse buying are long gone.

Residents in the UAE are actively looking for ways to cut back on spending and are now more cautious about making financial decisions than they were a year earlier, according to the latest study.

Out of the more than 1,000 consumers polled recently by McKinsey & Company, about four in ten (42 per cent) people in the UAE said they’re putting a lid on spending, while 48 per cent are delaying their purchases.

The majority of those surveyed (53 per cent) are also increasingly looking for ways to save money, with an equal number (53 per cent) admitting that they go for sales and promotions and 48 per cent acknowledging that they pay more attention to prices when they shop.

What UAE consumers have done over the last 12 months:

Look for ways to save money (53 per cent)
Look for sales and promotions (53 per cent)
Delay purchases (48 per cent)
Pay more attention to prices (48 per cent)
Shop around to get the best deals (45 per cent)
Wait for products to go on sale (41 per cent)
Use coupons and loyalty cards more often (39 per cent)
Buy more in bulk  (31 per cent)

When it comes to eating out, it looks like more people are also avoiding those weekend brunches and lunches, with more than a third (32 per cent) saying that they now prefer to eat at home -- more than those who said the same thing in April 2017.

While they appear to be tightening their purse strings, consumers in the UAE, however, are not scrimping on their health.

In fact, there are more people this year (28 per cent) than last year (26 per cent) who said they are eating healthy foods.

However, there’s been a decline in the number of shoppers (5 per cent this year compared to 12 per cent last year) who said they are reading nutrition labels in stores.

Proponents of the study, however, pointed out that most people who were questioned for the study said they believe they are saving and delaying purchases less than they did last year.

Overall, there are slightly fewer UAE consumers who are altering their spending habits to save, although those who wish to allocate additional spending would like to  prioritise their daily necessities (68 per cent), education (59 per cent) and clothing (53 per cent).

Even if their incomes go up, UAE consumers also don’t intend to spend more than 29 per cent of the additional earnings. Instead, they would rather set aside 40 per cent on savings and 31 per cent on paying off debts.