Back to Business in UAE: Are Consumers and SMBs Ready to Get Over the Pandemic?

Published November 18th, 2020 - 04:00 GMT
Back to Business in UAE: How Did Consumers and SMBs React to the Pandemic?
In most countries, businesses have felt the first recovery signs last summer as countries gradually lifted lockdown measures. (Shutterstock: Blue Planet Studio)
Highlights
there has certainly been a lot of pressure on different sectors who have been struggling to navigate through the crisis, trying to adapt to the new reality.

Despite rising infections worldwide, there is a general sense of hope that the COVID19 pandemic is bound to a near end, which has been positively affecting businesses and consumers alike.

While businesses in most countries have felt the first recovery signs last summer as countries gradually lifted lockdown measures, there has certainly been a lot of pressure on different sectors who have been struggling to navigate through the crisis, trying to adapt to the new reality.

Hoping to understand the different changes that have affected the behaviors of small businesses and consumers, Visa has conducted a study called "Back to Business" last June, examining the different trends that have emerged in today's world. The study was carried out in 8 different countries, including the business environment in the UAE.

According to the study in which 2000 SMBs and 4500 consumers were surveyed around the world, there was a clear indication that contactless payments performed online have seen a huge surge, as people have been avoiding exchanging bills in fear of contracting the coronavirus.

This has had a direct effect on decisions taken by businesses to accelerate their switch to digital payment methods, in an attempt to drive their already declining revenue a bit higher. The study showed that about 63% of consumers would switch to a new business that installed contactless payment options, while nearly 48% of consumers surveyed would not shop at a store that only offers payment methods that involve direct or indirect contact with other human beings, including a shared card reader.

In light of this new reality, many businesses have also been working on upgrading their online marketing strategies in the hopes of reaching a wider audience, as more people are reportedly browsing through social media networks than ever. Additionally, services and products have not only been promoted online more than ever but also have been made available for customers as online shopping witnesses a historical surge.

Moreover, SMBs have been trying to re-prioritize their goals for 2020, taking several emergent factors into consideration; such as the decline in earnings which was a top priority to 52% of surveyed small businesses, attracting new customers or clients, in addition to having to make decisions with regard to reducing salaries.

While only 67% of global SMBs have expressed optimism towards the next months, an overwhelming 94% of  UAE-based small businesses showed similar sentiments, saying that they expect their businesses to recover in about 6 months of the end of the crisis.

Similarly, 92% of businesses in the Emirates have been switching to different forms of online procedures, to respond to consumers' contactless concerns. Also, about 48% of UAE's SMBs are mostly concerned about employees' safety and health, compared to a disappointing 27% worldwide.

In terms of consumers' behaviors in the UAE, a whopping 90% of people have already been using cashless payment methods ever since the pandemic made it to the country last January, while about 72% would not shop at stores that don't offer such options.

Do you think a second wave threatens figures pointing at optimism in the markets? Would the continuous news of successful vaccines boost hopes of a faster economic recovery?

 


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