Global Consumer Insights Survey 2023 | Pulse 5 – Middle East findings

Inflation and rising prices shape a new hybrid Middle East consumer

  • Publication
  • 7 Minute Read
  • May 03, 2023

Supply chain delays, high inflation and cost of living are the main factors influencing consumer behaviour in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Consumers are becoming more price sensitive and keen to hunt bargains and their concerns about their finances vary in degree between countries.

In-store shopping remains popular with shoppers, particularly those who want to see the product directly before making the purchase. Nevertheless, online shopping goes from strength to strength and remains the industry standard, particularly for more tech-savvy consumers.

Technology continues to influence how consumers shop. While the metaverse and its applications are still in their early stages of development, they are gaining popularity among millennials.

Explore the 3 key themes from the Middle East findings
Higher prices and supply chain delays hinder sales
Consumer habits are changing in response to higher prices
Multiple sales routes in a smarter retail world

The overwhelming issue Middle East consumers face when visiting stores is the rising prices of household goods. It’s ranked in the top 3 pressing issues and ranked the biggest issue for in-store and online shoppers. Larger queues, longer delivery time, and reduced product quality and availability all prove to be other significant issues regional consumers frequently experience.

Faced with these supply chain and logistics issues, consumers employ a range of actions to address and overcome them. More than 40% of consumers will use comparison sites and shop from multiple retailers as corrective measures. Some 36% would either switch to buying online or from another retailer’s store, 29% would buy another brand, and the same proportion would switch to retailers’ own-brand products. These figures demonstrate the opportunity for retailers that can resolve their supply chain issues to take market share.

Q: How frequently have you taken actions as a result of supply chain issues?

Amid rising prices, value-added taxes, and global economic uncertainty some 79% of regional consumers are concerned about their financial situation.

During the next six months, Middle East consumers are expecting growth in spending mainly on groceries (47%), Fashion (40%), and Consumer Electronics (36%). On the contrary, 45% of the surveyed regional consumers are expecting a drop in their spending on luxury and designer products. Virtual education classes (37%) and home entertainment (37%) are also affected by this trend.

Nowadays consumers look for promotions, with more than 40% of regional and global consumers buying only products at ‘offer prices’ and seeking to buy from retailers who offer better value. Comparison sites are used to find cheaper alternatives as an action to face the economic climate and its potential impact on the cost of living. As a consequence, luxury brands will take note that all Middle East consumers surveyed will spend less on designer and high-end goods.

Online shopping continues to move from strength to strength and in various forms, but in-store shopping continues to play a key role in how consumers go about their business. The desire to see and physically handle goods and the positive feel-good factor of visiting brick-and-mortar shops remain. Although there is a drop in daily shopping, regional consumers are slightly more active in making purchases each day than their global peers. Mobile phones remain a key channel for regional consumers to shop daily and weekly online. 

It is still very early days for the metaverse, but its use in retail is inevitable. Many Middle East consumers remain somewhat in the dark about what this new virtual world will offer in practice: although 35% have heard of the metaverse, only 10% have purchased goods or used it to browse and virtually test products.

Q: In the last 6 months, which of the following metaverse-related activities have you participated in?

As new technologies come online to make the shopping experience even better, it’s matched somewhat with wariness about personal security breaches. Regional consumers are very to extremely concerned about the privacy of their data, with social media and website usage (40%) causing great concern. Interacting with the media is close behind (37%). Close to half of regional consumers don’t share any more personal data than is necessary and this is the key action taken to address their data privacy concerns. As a barometer of people’s apprehension, over 30% of regional consumers rarely or never purchase goods from these untrustworthy types of companies. 

Q: To what extent, if at all, are you concerned about the privacy of your personal data when interacting with the following types of companies?

About the survey

The Pulse 5 Middle East findings for PwC’s latest global consumer insights survey include responses from 771 consumers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, split between 58% of men and 42% of women. 86% of the samples are in the 18-41 age group, reflecting the region’s young demographic profile, and around 74% are employed. 39% say they have a hybrid-working pattern and can be based in any location.

This report references the Middle East findings along with the fieldwork timing of the following surveys:

To maintain a seamless delivery of products to consumers, Middle East retailers need to turn to technology. Consumers and retailers are impacted by rising inflation and cost of living, which in turn influences how consumers shop and make lifestyle choices. Furthermore, consumers are entering an increasingly ‘phygital’ world and are seeking the convenience of buying online with the confidence of buying in-store. Today, we see that consumers are going hybrid and easily switching channels, between online and in-store shops, or a mixture of both.

Norma Taki, Middle East Consumer Markets Leader

Global Consumer Insights Survey 2023 - Middle East findings

Inflation and rising prices shape a new hybrid Middle East consumer

Download the report (PDF of 920.82kb)

الاستطلاع العالمي لآراء المستهلكين 2023 | الإصدار الخامس - نتائج منطقة الشرق الأوسط

التضخّم وارتفاع الأسعار يرسمان معالم المستهلك الجديد في منطقة الشرق الأوسط


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Norma Taki

Norma Taki

Deals Partner and Consumer Markets Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 4 304 3100

Sami Darouni

Sami Darouni

Senior Executive Advisor, Strategy& Middle East

Roy Hintze

Roy Hintze

Partner, Middle East Consumer Markets, PwC Middle East

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Imad Matar

Imad Matar

Transaction Services Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +966 (11) 211 0400 (ext 1501)

Maye  Ayoub

Maye Ayoub

Partner, PwC Middle East

Tel: +20 100 666 6240

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