Four in 10 UAE consumers say they have saved more during Covid-19

New survey finds that people spent less on non-essential goods during the stay-at-home measures, allowing them to improve their personal finances

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð July 15: Dirham is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. UAE dirham was introduced in 1973. (Pawan Singh / The National) *** Local Caption ***  PS06- DIRHAMS.jpg
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Four out of 10 UAE residents increased their personal savings during the Covid-19 stay-at-home measures, according to a new survey that explored people's changing habits and how they managed their finances during the pandemic.

The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of global consultancy Kearney Middle East, found that 47 per cent of people earning a monthly income of more than Dh40,000 increased their savings during the pandemic. About 43 per cent of respondents earning between Dh20,000 and Dh40,000 per month said they also saved more money, followed by 41 per cent of those on a salary of Dh10,000 to Dh20,000, and 39 per cent of people earning between Dh5,000 and Dh10,000.

Among respondents earning less than Dh5,000 per month, 39 per cent said they managed to save more money during the stay-at-home measures, the survey found.

"Covid-19 has had a huge impact on people's income and how they manage their finances," Kearney Middle East said in its report, Hope in uncertain times: how COVID-19 could help us find new habits that stick. "As a result, we are now saving more and spending less.

"In the UAE, 60 per cent of people are spending more on essential products than they did before the virus struck. At the same time, spending on non-essential goods has dropped substantially."

In another survey conducted by YouGov in July, a third of people in the UAE said they expected their finances to improve after the gradual reopening of the UAE's economy in response to the pandemic, while 23 per cent said they would remain unchanged and a quarter said their finances would be worse.

The world economy is set to slide into the deepest recession since the Great Depression, with the International Monetary Fund projecting a 4.9 per cent contraction this year and a sluggish recovery in 2021.

The Kearney Middle East study, which surveyed 1,000 people, also found that people switched to online shopping during the crisis, with 57 per cent of respondents saying they spent money more online than they did before the pandemic.

The coronavirus precautionary measures have also spurred contactless and online payments in the UAE, with 41 per cent of respondents saying they have avoided using cash during the pandemic, the Kearney Middle East survey found.

One in six (62 per cent) respondents also said they had experienced a significant or complete change in their lives and more than 55 per cent said they expected to retain the behaviours they adopted during the pandemic.

The survey also found that 32 per cent of respondents changed their work habits and were spending more time attending virtual conferences and webinars. People with an income of more than Dh45,000 spent the most time (45 per cent) attending online webinars compared with those on lower income levels: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000 (42 per cent), Dh10,000 to Dh20,000 (36 per cent), Dh5,000 to Dh10,000 (29 per cent) and less than Dh5,000 (25 per cent).

Meanwhile, 36 per cent of respondents to the survey said they had searched for other work opportunities during the pandemic, with people aged between 25 and 34 years most actively looking for a job (38 per cent). This was followed by those aged over 45 years (36 per cent), people between the ages of 35 to 45 (34 per cent) and people aged from 18 to 24 years (28 per cent).