UAE, KSA consumers are spending more online amidst COVID-19


April 12, 2020 | By RetailME Bureau

Around 79% of consumers in the UAE and 95% in KSA are now spending more online amidst COVID-19 outbreak, indicates a survey commissioned by global consultancy firm Kearney Middle East. When asked if they would maintain current shopping habits after the pandemic, 48% in the UAE and 69% in KSA answered in the affirmative.

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%) in the UAE, followed by online (27%), neighbourhood 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.

While in KSA, out of the 500 respondents, 71% claimed that they are spending more on essential products including groceries, food, healthcare and wellness items than they did before the pandemic. Online was revealed as the preferred method of shopping (37%), followed by visiting a supermarket (24%), hypermarket (23%) or neighbourhood grocery / convenience stores (16%). In addition to this, over two-thirds (68%) of respondents estimate that they are now spending more online than they did previously.

When questioned about the criteria for purchasing essential products, UAE and KSA respondents highlighted excellent quality (36% and 35%, respectively) and availability (36% and 33%, respectively), followed by price (28% and 32%, respectively).

In the UAE, expenditure on non-essential items has 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.

In KSA too, expenditure on non-essential items has increased since the lockdown, with the entertainment category (music and movies) being the most popular (54%). This was followed by education and books (51%), toys and games (49%), home improvement and decoration (41%), fashion and beauty (29%) and electronics (26%). Online shopping was also the preferred method for purchasing (43%), with over half (54%) of respondents spending more on non-essential items than they did previously.

Also read: Online orders spike amidst COVID-19

“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. In Saudi Arabia too, there is a growing demand for online shopping, with consumers spending more on both essential and non-essential items during this period. 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 Debashish Mukherjee, partner & head – consumer industries and retail practice at Kearney Middle East.

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

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