In addition to turning into a sporting destination, Qatar is also "vying to host" a variety of business forums and conferences as it seeks to establish itself as a business hub in the GCC, Alpen Capital has said in a report.
This, the researcher noted, will provide impetus to Qatar’s retail market in the coming years.
In addition to the ongoing FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, some of the major international sporting events lined up to take place in the country include the Formula 1, TP Tennis Competition, International Golf Championship, the World Championship of Motorcycles, 2024 World Aquatics Championships, the 2030 Asian Games, European Tour Golf, and the MotoGP among others.
Moreover, Qatar has been hosting several events in the run up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup – helping the industry recover from the lows of 2020.
Consequently, Alpen Capital noted, tourist arrivals in the country increased by 5% y-o-y in 2021 while total travel and tourism spending revenues reached $16.5bn, contributing 10.3% to the country’s GDP – the highest amongst the GCC nations.
"All these factors are estimated to have helped revive the retail industry in Qatar," Alpen Capital said.
As of H1, 2022, supply of organised retail space within malls in Qatar reached 1.7mn sq m, reflecting an increase of more 160% since 2015, Alpen Capital said.
The size of Qatar’s wholesale and retail trade grew at a CAGR of 12.3% between 2015 and 2020 to reach $26.7bn, accounting for 15% of the GDP.
The wholesale and retail trade contribution to GDP has remained stable over the years, indicating the growing importance of the industry within the economy. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic causing business disruptions, Qatar’s retail industry fared well during 2020 as the majority of stores and malls were allowed to reopen by summer with a range of mandatory health guidelines in place.
During this period, the country witnessed several changes in consumer behaviour, especially in terms of buying patterns, spending trends, payment solutions, and utilisation of e-commerce platforms, Alpen Capital noted.
The use of e-commerce witnessed a significant boost as consumers were forced to stay at home and rely on online channels. As per the Ministry of Transport and Communications, about 60% of the consumers in Qatar signified a desire to shop online.
This led to the country’s retailers to restructure their strategy to incorporate online sales platforms.
Consequently, many retailers in Qatar have moved to a blended, omni-channel distribution strategy, which involves boosting and expanding their digital offerings while also maintaining a brick-and-mortar footprint.
However, the phased easing of Covid-19 restrictions in 2021 resulted in an encouraging return to pre-lockdown footfall levels in most retail malls.
Consequently, the country’s retail market is estimated to have recovered from the slowdown during the pandemic, due to overall economic activity improving during the first year of the pandemic while inflation remained in the negative territory, Alpen Capital said.
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