Browsing 'shopping' News

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Osarieme Eweka/Flickr

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Wealthy Qatar residents spent an average of US$4,000 a month on luxury goods and experiences last year – twice that of their regional peers, according to results of a new survey of spending habits in the Middle East.

Falling oil prices and government belt-tightening inside of Qatar have led to hundreds of job losses here, but hasn’t stopped more affluent citizens and residents from enjoying the finer things in life, American Express Middle East said.

That said, a quarter of people surveyed within Qatar confirmed they did cut back on spending last year.

Qatar’s average spend on high-end items and services was the most out of the five Gulf countries (UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain) surveyed for the latest edition of the company’s Spending Survey.

Spending jumps

The report was carried out by Germany-based market researchers GfK, and Saudi Arabia was not included.

Qatar residents spent around 12 percent of their average household monthly income on luxury goods and services last year. The $4,000 figure is considerably higher than the $2,500 spent each month in 2014, Bloomberg reported.

Across the region, a total of 430 residents and citizens who had annual household incomes of $75,000 or more took part in the survey, which was conducted between November and December 2015.

All had been residents of their respective Gulf countries for at least one year.

Some 41 percent of households surveyed spent between $1,001 and $5,000 a month on luxuries, while just under a third spent more than $5,000 monthly on such items/services.

Just one percent said they spent less than $250 each month on nice-to-haves, Gulf Times reported.

Mazin Khoury, Chief Executive Officer, American Express Middle East said only around a quarter of people in Qatar reduced spending last year.

“Around 76 percent of the respondents from Qatar did not cut back spending in 2015. They spent more than planned or the same amount while just 24 percent cut back their spending,” the Peninsula reported him as saying.

Changing habits

However, some habits have changed. Around one quarter (26 percent) of people in Qatar said they spent less on eating out last year, while nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they spent more on food and drink at home.

Residents in other Gulf states appeared to be more frugal, as 41 percent of those in Oman cut back spending on socializing, while more than half (55 percent) of people in Kuwait did the same last year.

Looking forward, many Qatar residents said that while they don’t plan to spend less overall, they are expecting to change up their purchases.

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Westin Doha Hotel & Spa

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Around one quarter (24 percent) said they would spend more on personal wellness at the expense of dining out, while 42 percent said they would spend less on savings and pensions, Gulf Times added, quoting Khoury.

Spending on experiences, such as holidays, spa visits, eating out, hobbies and sports is still favored over buying tangible items such as jewelry, watches, clothes, cars and electronics.

Just over half (53 percent) of those surveyed said they would be spending their extra income on experiences, while 47 percent said they would like to buy goods, in line with trends across the region.

This is down from 2014, when 70 percent of those polled in Qatar in the same survey said they would opt for high-end experiences over buying “stuff.”

Rising cost of living

The survey results come as official statistics show that Qatar is an increasingly expensive place for living.

Consumer prices in February were up more than 3 percent on the same month last year, primarily driven by a 9 percent jump in the cost of recreation and cultural activities since February 2014.

Meanwhile, residential rental rates continue to rise, despite an increase in vacancies.

Do you plan to spend less this year? Thoughts?

All photos by Ray Toh

An eclectic array of clothes, toys, accessories, food, oud and other items are up for sale at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) near City Center Mall this week.

The World Heritage Exhibition 2016 is a trade show that has attracted some 355 exhibitors from different countries, and runs through April 19.

Vendors could be seen hawking tea sets, carpets, dates, honey, nuts, abayas, thobes, nail polish and a variety of other goods yesterday.

World Heritage Exhibition 2016

Ray Toh / Doha News

World Heritage Exhibition 2016

Performers could be seen dancing and singing to a fairly empty audience on Thursday evening, though attendance will likely go up now that it’s the weekend.

Vendors appeared willing to bargain, but prices were fairly high compared to grocery store items.

The trade show is open from 11am to 10pm daily and from 3pm to 11pm on Fridays. For those interested in checking out the activity area with entertainment and traditional musical shows, they run daily from 3pm to 9pm.

Have you checked it out? Thoughts?

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SpirosK photography / Flickr

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Qatar’s only elected body is renewing calls on the government to enforce an existing provision that prohibits men from selling women’s clothes and other items.

Speaking at their bi-monthly meeting this morning, members of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) said this practice causes embarrassment and is against the traditions and customs of a conservative country like Qatar.

Chairman Mohamed Mahmoud Al Shafi, who raised the issue for discussion, said that he has received many complaints from both men and women regarding the issue.

Speaking to Doha News, one of the CMC’s two female representatives Sheikha al-Jufairi said the problem is especially embarrassing in underwear shops, where salesmen look at female shoppers’ bodies to evaluate and discuss their size and help them purchase what they need.

Deputy chairman Hamad bin Lahdan Al Muhannadi noted that only hiring women to sell such items to shoppers is a practice that some Gulf countries have already implemented. He added that Qatar however appears to be falling behind.

He suggested that men work as cashiers in women’s shops, since this won’t put the women in a position where they need to clarify their size and other personal details to a salesman.

Never implemented

The CMC has been discussing and issuing recommendations on this practice since 2006.

In 2011, the government issued a directive to ban salesmen from working in women’s shops.

Shop owners were given three months to execute the order, but it was never implemented, according to CMC members, who also raised this issue two years ago.

Al-Jufairi told Doha News that it may have been difficult to follow through because there aren’t enough women applying for sales’ jobs.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

She added that shop owners said obtaining work visas for employees from labor ministry is a long process, so they had to use whoever was available, instead of keeping their shops closed.

However, she said that five years was too long and that CMC members would meet with ministry officials to understand the causes of the delay.

The CMC has no legislative authority, but works in an “advisory and monitoring” role.

For his part, CMC member Nasser Ibrahim Mohamed Issa Al Mohannadi suggested increasing inspections on clothing shops and implementing harsh penalties on those that violate the rules to protect women’s privacy and Qatari society’s privacy.

Other members suggested that the government only issue work visas for saleswomen in these shops, so that compliance will be easier.

The issue was referred to a CMC sub-committee to further discuss the matter, and recommendations will be issued after members meet with officials.

Thoughts?