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Will Holidays be Naughty or Nice for Retailers? Consumers in the United Arab Emirates Discuss Shopping Plans

Oracle Retail survey of 501 UAE shoppers shows nearly 44% planning to spend the same or more on gifts this year as last year --and avoid returns

Dubai November 3, 2020

While the pandemic has caused a surge in online shopping, a new Oracle Retail survey shows that many customers are ready to venture back out into stores this holiday season. Twelve percent of UAE shoppers surveyed plan to do most of their shopping in-store with 51% planning to split purchases between both online and brick-and-mortar. Still another 19% plan to make it as close as the parking lot, opting to retrieve orders via click-to-collect. And despite the challenging year, 44% of consumers expect to spend the same or more on holiday shopping than they did last year.

Customers don’t, however, want to deal with the hassle of returns. While last year, 74% of consumers in EMEA planned to make at least one return, this year that number dropped to just 54% for the UAE.

“The holidays promise to test retailer’s ability to serve customers how and where they want to shop,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail. “With customers shopping both online and in-store, and taking advantage of new retrieval options such as curbside pick-up and buy online pick up in-store, retailers are going to have to be firing on all cylinders to meet customer expectations in an already difficult environment.”

The survey polled 501 consumers in the United Arab Emirates, along with thousands of others in the United States, Australia, China, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom in September 2020 about their COVID-19 shopping habits and plans for holiday shopping. Unwrap your complimentary copy of the report here.

Holiday gift list

Apparel and electronics topped the gift list for consumers this year, more than nearly any other country. However, with travel limited and a desire to avoid returns, gift cards also emerged as a popular choice. Here is what consumers said they plan to spend more on this year:

  • 56% - of consumers plan to spend more on apparel and necessities
  • 49% - more on electronics
  • 27% - more on sporting goods/hobbies
  • 26% - of consumers plan to spend more on gift cards
  • 27% - more on luxury items (handbags, fashion, and jewelry)

Out of stock, out of luck

Unhelpful staff and a lack of inventory will be the fastest way for retailers to end up on this year’s naughty list said consumers:

  • 49% of respondents said unhelpful staff topped their list for a bad shopping experience
  • 48% noted out-of-stock merchandise; another 61% said they weren’t willing to wait for an item to be back in stock before they trying another brand
  • 45% a difficult exchange/return policy.
  • 43% a long, slow checkout experience or queuing outside.

“In the pandemic, many retailers in-store stock was depleted or completely sold out,” added Webster. “During the holidays it will be critical for retailers to fill the shelves and use their physical locations both to serve shoppers and as fulfillment centers to handle online orders and get shipments out to customers quickly.”

Malls live, but safety precautions and masks are crucial

While there has been much discussion about how indoor malls will fare in the pandemic, shoppers were mostly unconcerned about the location as long as the proper safety precautions were in place.

  • 33% of shoppers felt safest in an indoor mall; 21% in outdoor shopping venues; and 46% were fine with either with the proper safety precautions.
  • 78% said it was important to see staff and other customers wearing masks.
  • 76% said it was important to see visible cleaning efforts.
  • 70% of shoppers noted contactless checkout was important.
  • 70% noted reduced occupancy levels in stores as key.
  • 41% of shoppers also said a lack of social distancing would cause them to have a bad shopping experience.

Consumers get social with new brands

As consumers spent more time shopping online during COVID-19, the survey found that 80% had discovered new brands on social media. This is a clear signal to retailers that upping social advertising this holiday season could impact sales.

  • 66% of those shoppers discovered a new brand via Facebook
  • 64% via Instagram
  • 59% via YouTube
  • 21% via TikTok

The delivery nightmare before Christmas

While retailers experiment with alternative retrieval options, home delivery is still the top choice amongst consumers. This could present a delivery nightmare as shipping times will naturally get extended due to volume. To ease anxiety, 77% of consumers said real-time updates on item location throughout the delivery process is important. Here’s is how shoppers plan to retrieve online purchases:

  • 58% of respondents prefer home delivery.
  • 24% will buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS).
  • 19% will buy online and pick up via click-to-collect.

“Every parent nervously waiting for their child’s holiday gift to arrive will attest that transparency from retailers is an absolute must,” noted Webster. “Brands have to have the systems in place to communicate with customers every step of the way – from ordering through to delivery.”

Moving from browser to buyer

When shopping online or in-store, consumers cited these reasons for moving from a browser to a buyer:

  • 60% special offers or discounts (such as buy one, get one free).
  • 50% a great price.
  • 33% immediate availability and fast shipping time.

To learn more about how Oracle Retail is helping its customers and retailers have a happy holiday season, visit:

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About Oracle Retail

Oracle is the platform for modern retail. Oracle provides retailers with a complete, open, and integrated platform for leading retail solutions, cloud services, and hardware that are engineered to work together. Innovative retailers use Oracle solutions to pivot to customer and to drive agility across the business. Oracle Retail customers can deliver an authentic customer experience while protecting their people, processes, brand, and customers. For more information, visit our website

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