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Subsequent to the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first confirmed Covid-19 case in January 2020, the government has taken swift action,  implementing measures to curb the spread of the virus. The threat of Covid-19 and its subsequent constraining measures have impacted tourism in the UAE and numbers are at an all-time low. Almost all international and domestic air travel has been suspended, and hotels, malls and high street stores across the Emirates are largely closed, as are restaurants and cafés, except for delivery.

Similarly – and not surprising then, that – the retail sector is reeling under the  impact of this crisis and presents us with a study in contrast. On one hand, non-food retail and restaurants have seen a downward spiral in performance since February and increased uncertainty as to when they will return to ‘business as usual.’ Several prominent non-food retail businesses have indicated that sales in the first half of March were down by as much as 50-60% compared to the same period last year. With mall closures and low volumes from online channels, they expect a further drop in performance. Yet, on the other hand, grocery and food retailing businesses are faced with a challenge to meet rapidly growing demand.

Online retailers, particularly for grocery products, have witnessed unprecedented growth – there is a waiting time of two to ten days for deliveries, while minimum order amounts have been increased.

Click here to see the timeline for Covid-19 developments in the UAE.