McKinsey: How UAE consumers are responding to Covid-19

24 August 2020 3 min. read

A new survey of UAE residents by McKinsey & Company sheds light on how Emirati consumers are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and its resulting downturn. A round-up of the most notable findings.

Experiencing declining income, UAE consumers believe the personal and financial impact of Covid-19 will continue to last well beyond two months. Over half of the respondents believe it will take at least four months.

Adjustments to routines and Impact on personel finances


Consumers are cutting back on spending. With the exception of groceries, home entertainment and supplies, spending across categories is on a slide. At the same time, consumers are more price conscious and are increasingly looking for ways to save.

Expected spending per category over the next two weeks compared to usual

Most consumers remain worried about participating in out-of-home activities due to the Covid-19 situation. Most are also waiting for milestones beyond government lifting restrictions to return to regular activities.

Consumers worries about out-of-home activities in the next two weeks

But compared to the two previous weeks, UAE consumers are anticipating to engage more in out-of-home activities in the coming two weeks. 

Consumers engagement with activities outside home

For shops, cleaning and sanitisation and the use of masks and barriers are the most important factors for providing consumers the confidence to shop in-store.

Top priorities when deciding where to shop in-store

Not surprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to online buying. In the UAE, most major shopping categories have seen a jump in online purchasing of at least ten per cent.

Consumers use of online channel before and after COVID19

Further reading: Middle East consumer behaviour changing and shifting online

In an earlier study of Covid-19 sentiment among consumers in the United Arab Emirates (and those in the Gulf Cooperation Council), McKinsey & Company found that residents in the region are among the most optimistic globally, despite the hardship they are facing.