‘Technology key to Gulf’s retail sector’s post-COVID-19 recovery,’ retailers told

Studies have shown how the pandemic forced Gulf consumers to adapt to new technology. (File/Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 23 July 2020

‘Technology key to Gulf’s retail sector’s post-COVID-19 recovery,’ retailers told

  • Retail sector officials and experts noted a shift in consumer behavior in the region

DUBAI: Technology will play a crucial role for the recovery of the Gulf’s $275.4-billion retail sector after the COVID-19 pandemic pushed global industries to the wall, experts have said in an online retail event.

Retail sector officials and experts noted a shift in consumer behavior in the region, adding how latest technology and digital transformation are now key to unlocking the market’s potential.

A recent survey conducted by Ernst & Young in May 2020 found that 92 percent of consumers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have changed their shopping habits – including shifting to online purchase.

“Technology will drive digital initiatives. Good customer experience will come from an innovation mindset, driven using different technology tools,” Piyush Kumar Chowhan, Group Chief Information Officer, Lulu Group International, the largest retailer in the Gulf.

He added data and artificial intelligence could “nurture the growth of the retail sector.”

Studies have shown how the pandemic forced Gulf consumers to adapt to new technology – including to contactless payments and remote shopping through mobile applications.

The Visa CEMEA Impact Tracker has shown a shift to online commerce, with cash transactions being replaced by digital payments. The survey found many consumers in the UAE started shopping online for the first time.

Saudi Arabia’s Bin Dawood Group reported 400 percent jump in app downloads while online sales jumped 200 percent in just a few weeks.

While these new methods become prominent, Youssef Olama, Information Technology Director at Spinneys Egypt, warned of one of its dangers – breach of privacy for consumers.

“Technology is undoubtedly the key to future business growth. Data science will be important to understand market trends and leverage them within the business. But we should avoid tracking customers. Privacy has to be well-defined in terms of data usage,” he said.


German economy to shrink by 5.2% this year, grow by 5.1% next year

Updated 22 September 2020

German economy to shrink by 5.2% this year, grow by 5.1% next year

  • The number of people out of work is seen rising to 2.7 million this year from 2.3 million in 2019
  • The Ifo institute cautioned that there was an unusually high degree of uncertainty attached to the forecasts

BERLIN: Germany’s Ifo institute on Tuesday said Europe’s largest economy would likely shrink by 5.2 percent this year, raising its previous estimate for a 6.7 percent drop, in the latest sign the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could be smaller than initially feared.
“The decline in the second quarter and the recovery are currently developing more favorably than we had expected,” Ifo chief economist Timo Wollmershaeuser said.
For 2021, Ifo cut its economic forecast for Germany to 5.1 percent growth from its previous estimate of 6.4 percent. It expects the economy to expand by 1.7 percent in 2022.
The number of people out of work is seen rising to 2.7 million this year from 2.3 million in 2019, before edging down to 2.6 million in 2021 and then to 2.5 million in 2022.
That would translate into a jump in the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent this year from 5.0 percent last year. The rate would then drop to 5.7 percent percent in 2021 and 5.5 percent in 2022, Ifo said.
The Ifo institute cautioned that there was an unusually high degree of uncertainty attached to the forecasts. It pointed to the rising number of coronavirus infections, the risk of a disorderly Brexit and unresolved trade disputes.