After two years of consecutive decline, traditional grocery retailers registered positive low single-digit growth in 2021. Given that most of the retailing landscape in the United Arab Emirates is comprised of modern grocery retailers, consumers are less interested in traditional grocery retailers.
During the pandemic many smaller traditional grocery retailers were forced to close permanently, as they had limited access to government support or fiscal stimulus. This was especially true in the smaller Emirates, such as Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah, where there is a larger proportion of independent shops due to the subdued presence of modern grocery retailers.
During the pandemic, many birthday parties, anniversaries and other gatherings were limited, so it is no surprise that in 2021 there was pent-up demand for these activities, and subsequently for chocolate speciality stores. Confectionery player Patchi (a popular halal chocolate confectionery brand in the United Arab Emirates) closed many of its stores in 2020 in order to upgrade, and reopened these stores again in 2021.
Unlike in most Middle Eastern countries, only a small proportion of retailers exist outside the reach of the formal modern retail structures of the United Arab Emirates. The retail landscape is dominated by modern grocery retail channels, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Traditional grocery retailers which offer ethnic speciality foods continue to do well. The United Arab Emirates is a melting pot of cultures, with very different consumer needs.
Given consumers’ heightened interest in wellness, health food stores registered growth in this channel, such as Holland & Barrett. Consumer interest in vitamins and dietary supplements and products perceived to help fight off COVID-19 infection have grown in popularity, and many of these habits are expected to stick.
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Traditional grocery retailing is the aggregation of those channels that are invariably non-chained and are, therefore, owned by families and/or run on an individual basis. For Euromonitor traditional grocery retailing is the aggregation of three channels: Independent Small Grocers, Food/Drink/Tobacco Specialists and Other Grocery Retailers. While there can be modern (i.e. chained) food/drink/tobacco specialists or other grocery retailers, due to the store's presence in the channel, these stores are still considered as traditional for Euromonitor International.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Traditional Grocery Retailers research and analysis database.
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