Dubai retailers were hit hard by the pandemic, as access was restricted and customers stuck at home turned to online shopping.
Majid Al-Futtaim, one of the largest mall operators, with 27 shopping malls across five countries, reported a 7 percent year-on-year fall in revenues to 8.88 billion dollars in 2020, resulting in a net loss of AED 2.7 billion, compared to a loss of AED 1.9 billion in 2019.
However, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce in March reported that retail sales in the UAE are expected to rebound and grow by 13 percent to reach 58 billion dollars by the end of 2021. The analysis, based on recent data by research company Euromonitor, also predicted that UAE retail sales are forecast to a maintain 6.6 percent annual growth of 70.5 billion dollars by 2025.
UAE, Asia and Mexico ready to embrace virtual and augmented shopping experiences
Residents across the UAE are more open to the idea of shopping with the aid of virtual and augmented reality, compared to several other markets around the world such as Western Europe and the US, according to a new retail trends research.
According to YouGov’s ‘International Omni-Channel Retail Report 2021: Shopping in the pandemic and implications for the future’ report, interest to adopt virtual or augmented reality is higher in Asia, the UAE, and Mexico compared to Western Europe and the U.S. This research examined consumers’ preferences in 17 countries and concluded that less than half of consumers globally were interested in using this technology for any shopping category specifically.
Thus, in the UAE are likely to shop for clothes and technology or home appliances in the next 12 months using virtual reality tools, while interest across categories is the highest in Mexico.
The research also confirmed that the pandemic has changed shopping behaviour, shifting many shoppers online to meet their needs.
Despite the shift, many still want to buy through brick-and-mortar outlets. This is especially true for certain categories like clothing. At 55 percent, the UAE has the highest proportion of people who in general have a preference to shop clothes at brick-and-mortar stores buying from these stores during this time.
At a global scale, both brick-and-mortar and online channels are pervasive among shoppers around the globe, with nearly 75 per cent having made purchases through both channels in the past three months. In fact, online retail channels are the preferred channel for discretionary items such as shoes, clothing, and electronics.
Image: Mall of the Emirates. Credits: Peter Gronemann for Creative Commons