The UAE has emerged as the most optimistic nation for economic recovery, with consumers mainly driving the revival as they continue to develop more positive spending habits amid the most challenging global crisis in recent memory.
The study from management consulting firm McKinsey & Co shows that 74 per cent of UAE respondents are optimistic that the economy will bounce back in two to three months and grow just as strong or stronger than pre-Covid period, with 24 per cent unsure and only two per cent pessimistic.
India and China were the only other countries that clocked in optimism higher than 50 per cent at 62 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively. Other major nations the UAE has outperformed are the United States, Germany, the UK, France and Japan.
But while consumers’ upbeat sentiment is soaring, they tend to spend less, adopting ways to save more, except on household essentials. “Consumers are more price-conscious… most consumers have also adopted new shopping behaviours such as grocery and restaurant deliveries, as they do not feel fully comfortable being in public spaces,” the report said.
The latest iteration of the survey — conducted from January 25 to February 10 — also revealed that UAE consumers have consistently had faith in the economy. A good majority — 68 per cent — believe that their personal finances will be impacted for another four months or so, while 69 per cent say routines will return to normal in the same time frame.
More than half also experienced a decline in income and savings, albeit while spending more.
The new era has indeed made consumers rethink their spending, adopting new habits along the way, such as looking for ways to save money while shopping (49 per cent) and changing to less-expensive products (46 per cent).
Online shopping has also become a hit, with many UAE consumers planning to shift to this channel almost completely. Food deliveries have also witnessed a spike. If they do decide to shop in-store, 27 per cent say the most important factor is the cleanliness and sanitisation of a place.
Meanwhile, in what is dubbed as the homebody economy, more UAE consumers have increasingly used services such as telemedicine, video chat and online streaming. And while remote learning, which has surged in popularity during the pandemic, is still widely used, families expect it to end soon and are not heavily investing in tools for this endeavour, the survey added.
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