RITIKA SHARMA / EMIRATES BUSINESS
Dip in oil prices may have affected most of the global industries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
region, in one or the other way, but it has made little difference to the UAE’s luxury shopping sector. However the slowdown has rephrased the way customers spend.
In a recently-held GCC-centric
survey, it has been found that, except a few redistributions in the patterns and preferences of spenders, the luxury shopping industry continues to grow at the same pace in UAE in the last few years. It is also showing many promising signs of development in the coming years.
Findings from a survey commissioned by American Express Middle East across five of the GCC countries showed that the UAE ranks as the number one destination for luxury shopping in the region.
43 percent of respondents have selected Dubai as their favourite place to shop for luxury items. Dubai is
followed by Abu Dhabi, Doha and Kuwait City.
Mazin Khoury, Chief Executive Officer, American Express Middle East, said, “Despite the economic headwinds across the region, our research shows little slowdown in the volume of spending and at the same time we have seen a pretty significant redistribution in how people are spending their disposable income.”
Dubai was the top choice by respondents in all countries and of all age groups, while Abu Dhabi was also popular with the older age groups (35-year-old and over). The American Express Middle East Spending Survey was conducted by GfK and involved high income households in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.
The research found little slowdown in consumer spending in 2015 despite economic uncertainties in the region, although there was a noticeable shift in spending habits. Just 18 percent of respondents in the UAE said they spent less in 2015 but it was apparent that many had shifted their spending to focus more on the necessities of life.
“It is evident that people are spending more cautiously and are focusing more on essentials,” Khoury pointed out.
The survey involved a series of face-to-face interviews and was undertaken by GfK in November and December 2015. The respondents surveyed are active decision makers for luxury purchases in their households, and have annual household incomes of US$75,000 or higher. The survey was carried out among high-profile residents of UAE,
Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait who had lived in the country for at least one year. The new spending patterns are broadly similar across all age groups although those over 40 are most likely to cut back on socialising with over half (51 percent) deprioritising this area.
The story is also similar across all five countries surveyed. In Bahrain, for example, 55 percent spent less on dining out in 2015 while 62 percent spent more on eating at home — a clear shift in spending habits. Similarly, in Oman 88 percent spent more on food and drinks for home while 41 percent cut back on socialising.