RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s strong preventive measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has changed the purchasing behavior of consumers.
Measures taken by the government to allow delivery apps to work during curfew hours have attracted new customers to the services.
Hassan Al-Khalidi, a teacher from Al-Khobar, said that for the first time, he was able to order everything for his family from a hypermarket online.
“I used to go by myself for shopping, whether from the hypermarket or from the store next to my home, but after buying groceries online for the first time, I would say it was an excellent experience.”
Al-Khalidi added that he would continue the new habit after the crisis is over.
But due to high demand, not all hypermarkets are able to provide customers with quick deliveries. Some hypermarket apps are reporting lengthy delivery times. An Arab News staffer tested the service on the Danube hypermarket app, which informed him that it would take 10 days for goods to be delivered as curfew hours in Riyadh had been expanded. The delivery time before the curfew began was just one day.
But despite the COVID-19 measures and the risks of leaving home, a large portion of people prefer to go to hypermarkets in person for their shopping. Mohammed Alshammari from Riyadh said that shopping provides relief from the long stay at home and the “constant negativity of the news about coronavirus.”
He added: “I try to go shopping early in the morning when hypermarkets are less crowded, I take precautionary measures such as wearing a mask and gloves and keeping enough space from others.”
The Ministry of Commerce recently launched a campaign on social media urging people to shop in the early morning to avoid crowds. However, the ministry recommended purchasing groceries online and encouraged hypermarkets to provide exclusive online shopping promotions.
The ministry also instructed hypermarkets to limit the number of customers who can be inside at the same time.
An Arab News team visited a couple of hypermarkets in Riyadh, and noticed a high number of shoppers in the afternoon in comparison with the early morning hours. During rush hour (from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.) some stores were asking people to wait until other customers left before they could enter.
While the increase in the number of shoppers in hypermarkets is obvious, the Ministry of Commerce reassured customers that goods are stacked in several warehouses and that the food supply chain has never been affected by the curfew.