x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Belt-tightening is order of the day

Most people are cutting back on spending and being more cautious as the downturn forces them to concentrate on the essentials.

Abu Dhabi // Belt-tightening is the order of the day in the Emirates, according to the YouGov survey, as holidays, fine dining and big-ticket items fall victim to the downturn. More than 60 per cent of people polled have either cancelled or are considering postponing or cancelling their next holiday, with a similar proportion planning to spend their break in or near the UAE.

Three-quarters of respondents are eating out less frequently - with a near-identical number, consequently, socialising more at home. A similar proportion say they are visiting the malls less often to avoid unnecessary spending, with almost 90 per cent saying they are spending money more cautiously in general. For close to 85 per cent of respondents, grocery shopping has been stripped of all non-essentials while large purchases - such as cars and home cinema systems - have been put on hold.

Three-quarters of those who are planning to buy a big-ticket item, such as a laptop or car, will be opting for a model less expensive than they had hoped for, while 85 per cent say they have become more susceptible to special offers and price promotions in shops. Almost 70 per cent of those questioned were in full-time employment, seven per cent were self-employed and six per cent were out of work. Of the 654 still working, more than two thirds are in middle management or executive roles.

The survey also provides a snapshot of the nature of the jobs market in the UAE, where twice as many of those in work are employed in the construction industry (14 per cent of the total) as in any other sector, with the rest scattered fairly evenly across a range of industries, predominantly IT (eight per cent), banking and finance, advertising, PR and media (each seven per cent) and education, tourism and retail (six per cent). Five per cent work in property and the oil, gas and energy sector, with a further four per cent in health care.

Three-quarters of those surveyed are renting the homes they live in. Although 20 per cent report their rent has fallen since last year, 40 per cent say it is the same and 20 per cent say it has risen. There are marked difference among the emirates; only seven per cent report a decrease in Abu Dhabi, against more than three times as many in Dubai (22 per cent), Sharjah (22 per cent) and the northern Emirates, where 31 per cent say their rents have fallen. @Email:jgornall@thenational.ae