UAE retail market set to grow by 0.4% in 2020 as brief lockdown period protects spend

The United Arab Emirates is forecast to be the sixth best performing market in 2020 (of the 49 countries covered by GlobalData) with spend growth remaining in positive territory significantly helped by its short lockdown period of just two weeks for non-essential stores, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Emily Salter, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Although COVID-19 is set to wipe AED 13.5bn off the original 2020 forecast growth of 5.8% in the UAE, its wealthy population and brief lockdown period will mean the market holds up better than many of its MENA neighbours including Turkey and Israel. Additionally, the UAE will experience a faster recovery than most Western economies due to consumers’ greater propensity to spend on luxury items, although falling oil prices may have a longer term impact on domestic consumer wealth.”

Given lockdown restrictions for non-essential retailers were quickly lifted in the UAE shopping centres have started to reopen with many introducing measures that could be used a blueprint for others around the world that are considering how they can operate safely, once allowed.

Salter continues: “The first malls to re-open in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of May have introduced safety precautions including visitors being scanned by thermal- cameras as they enter the location, gloves and masks being required, shoppers asked to bring their own bags and to pay by card. If successful, the safety strategies implemented by malls could be used by other retailers and landlords to implement their own opening plans, potentially allowing shops to open earlier than they otherwise would have, improving the economic recovery – both in the UAE and globally.”

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