Data and analytics company GlobalData forecasts UAE’s retail sector to grow by 0.4% in 2020, as brief lockdown period protected consumer spend. And there could be pent-up demand.
The UAE is forecast to be the sixth best performing market in 2020 – of the 49 countries researched by GlobalData – with spend growth remaining in positive territory, significantly helped by its short lockdown period – from March 23 to April 23 – for non-essential stores.
“Although COVID-19 is set to wipe AED13.5 billion off the original 2020 forecast growth of 5.8% in the UAE, its wealthy population and brief lockdown period will mean the market holds up better than many of its MENA neighbours,” observed Emily Salter, retail analyst, GlobalData. “Additionally, the UAE will experience a faster recovery than most western economies due to consumers’ greater propensity to spend on luxury items, although falling oil prices may have a long-term impact on domestic consumer wealth.”
Moreover, phased reopening of shopping malls, commercial centres, high streets, retail stores, restaurants and salons in the UAE, following strict governmental guidelines, could be used a blueprint for others around the world to evaluate how they can operate safely, once allowed.
“The first malls to re-open in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of May have introduced safety precautions including visitors being scanned by thermal cameras as they enter the location, gloves and masks being required. Shoppers have been asked to bring their own bags and to pay by card. If successful, the safety strategies implemented by malls could be used by other retailers and landlords to implement their own opening plans, potentially allowing shops to open earlier than they otherwise would have, improving the economic recovery – both in the UAE and globally,” added Salter.