Most UAE residents prefer buying groceries, clothes at physical stores, not online: Survey

Around 74 per cent of shoppers in the UAE feel that their favourite brands are not rewarding them for their loyalty — and 78 per cent would want to see more discounts


Waheed Abbas

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KT file photo
KT file photo

Published: Tue 30 May 2023, 5:16 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 May 2023, 7:53 PM

The majority of UAE residents still prefer shopping for groceries, clothing, and furniture at brick-and-mortar stores despite the massive growth seen in the e-commerce sector in the post-pandemic period, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.

When it comes to technology and beauty products and booking holidays/entertainment, residents would usually take the online route, based on the same study released by global financial technology platform Adyen.

In terms of mode of payment, card remains the most popular choice for in-store purchases followed by cash, QR code, direct debit, and digital wallet.

The findings by the Dutch-headquartered company are based on a survey of 1,000 consumers and 500 retailers in the UAE.

Shoppers not happy with loyalty programmes

When it comes to loyalty programmes, the survey found that retailers have not been able to meet shoppers’ demand for better rewards and personalised offers.

“Around 74 per cent of shoppers in the UAE feel their favourite brands are not rewarding them for their loyalty, which is an increase of four per cent from last year,” Adyen said, adding that 37 per cent of retailers are reporting a decrease in customer loyalty.

As a result, 75 per cent of brands are offering year-round discounts to regain loyalty.


It said nearly 69 per cent of UAE consumers say that they’d be more loyal to retailers that let them buy online and return in-store. Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) suggested they’d have better shopping experiences if a business enables them to shop in-store and finish online, or vice-versa.

Around 78 per cent of UAE consumers want to see more discounts at retailers they shop with and 67 per cent say they want businesses to remember their preferences and previous shopping experiences so that browsing is more tailored.

But the UAE retailers are finding it hard to deliver on this, with 58 per cent suggesting it’s now harder to categorise customers.

“Shoppers crave a connection with their favourite brands and want to feel that their loyalty has a tangible impact on their shopping experience,” said the report.

The overwhelming majority — 80 per cent — of UAE consumers said they spend more time searching for the best deals and prices, while almost one-third – 30 per cent – wait for big calendar moments like Black Friday before making a purchase. In response, 52 per cent of UAE merchants believe the impact of inflation is such that they need to offer discounts to consumers year-round.

Interestingly, more than one-third, 69 per cent, of shoppers confirmed that they would continue purchasing from a brand that provided experiential retail they enjoyed. “So, as retailers strive to offer more innovative and seamless shopping experiences, customers are sure to notice and reward them with their loyalty,” it said.

Unified commerce

Moreover, the study found that UAE retailers are recognising the significance of connecting all sales channels as 50 per cent of retailers have already begun investing in this strategy in the past year, and 45 per cent are considering its implementation.

Sander Maertens, head of the Middle East at Ayden, said it's great to witness that in the UAE, over half of retailers have also acknowledged the potential of unified commerce and chosen to invest in it.

“Despite the significant changes in consumer behaviour over recent years, retailers who have embraced unified commerce will find it easier to navigate and adapt to these shifts,” he said.


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