Research suggests that the majority of residents in the UAE are comfortable shopping in public spaces. A survey commissioned by research firm Kearney Middle East reveals that 52% of respondents in the UAE are comfortable to shop in a public place amidst the current circumstances, out of which 36% highlighted that they would do so with extreme caution.

“This week we have seen new movement restrictions put in place by the government. However, malls and stores will continue to operate at 30% capacity. While we are edging towards normalcy with caution, there is still a level of uncertainty among the public on when the dust will settle,” observed Debashish Mukherjee, partner & head – consumer industries and retail practice, Kearney Middle East.

“The development of COVID-19 has affected the income of many individuals globally, which has forced them to rethink their spending. What was considered ‘disposable income’ prior to the pandemic is being reprioritised and there is a potential long-term behaviour change that is likely to emerge as people think harder about their financial planning for the future and the need to have emergency savings,” added Mukherjee.

“From our preliminary assessment, we can see that discretionary spending by consumers is lower than pre-pandemic times and may persist in the short term, as consumers are unwilling to spend and are still not entirely comfortable with going out and shopping publicly. This mirrors what is going on in the countries that have relaxed restrictions such as China and Germany. Additionally, with further federal guidelines on commercial activity that has restricted malls and stores to host any sale promotions for non-essential products, we anticipate to see more people turn to e-commerce as people shop from the safety of their homes and online retailers start to incentivise people with discounts,” Mukherjee concluded.