Three out of four small businesses in the UAE said they feel optimistic about business recovery in 2021, according to a new study by Visa, a world leader in digital payments. The majority of UAE merchants (82%) said their investments in digital payments had paid off and will play a major role in their business recovery.
The ‘2021 Small Business Recovery’ study surveyed small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the UAE, KSA, Egypt and Pakistan to understand how they have evolved in the way they do business to manage the impact of the Coronavirus on their bottom line. The study also revealed the top spending trends merchants claim define the COVID-19 business environment – these include increased use of contactless payments (93% of merchants), takeaways (87%) and home delivery (78%). Merchants in UAE expect all of these spending trends to continue to grow post-pandemic.
When asked about payment habits during the pandemic, more than half of UAE merchants polled (60%) said contactless payments were the preferred payment option among their customers, up from only 18% of merchants who at the start of the pandemic said contactless payment was customers’ preferred option. Nearly a third of respondents (31%) said they offered contactless payments as an option to respond to the growing demand for the payment option during the pandemic.
More than half (58%) of merchants surveyed said they began offering home delivery and pickup services during the outbreak. The study found that four in 10 retail merchants surveyed also implemented in-store self-help signage to meet the needs of safety-conscious customers and one in two merchants ran offers and promotions to attract and retain more customers.
More than a third of retailers (38%) in the UAE that were surveyed said they have established an online presence in response to COVID-19. Nearly nine in 10 (86%) are confident that online shopping will remain a preference well after the crisis.
Shahebaz Khan, Visa’s General Manager for the UAE, said: “It is encouraging to see that merchants feel optimistic about business recovery in 2021 and the swift adoption of digital payments and recognition of what their customers want – whether it is offering a range of digital payment options, home delivery or promotions – has been pivotal in them shifting gears from survival mode to recovery. UAE retailers are leading the way in showing how to translate insights into action and considering half of business owners (54%) are reliant on their small business as a primary or only source of income, this urgency is palpable. At Visa, we continue to work in lockstep with our bank and industry partners to support local merchants’ recovery needs.”
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