Consumers turning towards online amidst COVID-19

Rupkatha Bhowmick

Amidst lockdown and movement restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19, consumers are turning towards the online channel to shop for essentials and non-essentials. Around 79% of consumers in the UAE and 95% in KSA are now spending more online amidst COVID-19 outbreak, found out global consultancy firm Kearney Middle East. They are spending more on essential products including groceries, food, healthcare and wellness items than they did before the pandemic.

Several online home-grown businesses are recording massive surge in demand across different categories – from grocery to gym equipment and art & craft – as adults work from home and children continue virtual learning.

Also read: Online orders spike amidst COVID-19

El Grocer sees 10X rise in daily downloads

UAE-based on-demand grocery delivery app, El Grocer has seen daily downloads increase 10 times now, compared to January-February 2020.

“Like many other businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic caught by surprise. We had to quickly take some business-critical decisions around hiring more people to be able to meet the demand surge,” says Nader Amiri, founder, El Grocer.

“New habits are forming, owing to the current situation amidst COVID-19. Online shopping has become a part of day-to-day life; it is a necessity now, and not a luxury,” he opines.  “However, it is difficult to predict how much of these online buying habits will stick. There might be some changes in cart size and frequency, but as such online shopping is set to accelerate.”

Huge surge in several categories on  

In the past three weeks, home-grown e-commerce marketplace has seen a surge in interest for household items, mother and baby products and activities to keep children entertained. “Interestingly, 18% of mums on the website are bulk buying essentials with diapering and feeding categories growing by over 100%,” shares Sarah Jones, founder & CEO,

As the lockdown continues and families are trying to reduce screen time to spend quality time together, Sprii has also reported a 384% sales increase in arts & crafts and 80% rise in school & stationery.

With more time on their hands, it seems that UAE mums are also taking to the kitchen to whip up home-made goodies as we have seen 86% increase in food processors and mixers. Coffee and espresso purchases have increased by 120% compared to the same period last month. In addition, the outdoor category has also witnessed massive growth.

Yanzo records 78% month-on-month growth

Yanzo, an on-demand WhatsApp-based concierge service, has recorded an average month-on-month growth of 78% during the first quarter of 2020. With lockdown and movement restrictions, Yanzo has seen a huge surge in gym equipment in March. “Now, we are back to normal in terms of demand within retail categories, such as groceries, flowers, clothes and furniture,” says Tarek Osman, co-founder, Yanzo.

When asked how Yanzo is supporting other home-grown SMEs, especially during the current crisis, Osman observes, “With the drop of footfall in physical stores, Yanzo now is the primary sales channel for many of our fellow SMEs. Our focus is to serve as many clients as we can to be able to support our partner suppliers to stay afloat during this rough time.” Alongside partnering with global brands such as Kinokuniya and KIKO Milano, Yanzo has local partners like Alissar Flowers and Prosports onboard.

What’s more, Yanzo is also offering free delivery, with no minimum order requirement, to hospitals to serve the front-line healthcare workers and COVID-19 patients.


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