Notwithstanding the downturn in the energy front, Qatar’s residents average monthly spend on luxuries stood at $4,000 in 2015, which is twice that of the Gulf average, according to American Express (Amex).
Moreover, 76% of residents in Qatar are to either retain or increase general spending against the 80% regional average, said Amex Middle East’s survey, which was carried on individuals with annual earnings of $75,000 and above.
In Qatar, the average spending on luxuries is $4,000 per month, which is about 12% of the monthly earnings, Amex Middle East chief executive Mazin Khoury told reporters after unveiling its survey, in which three-fourth of the respondents were citizens.
"The economic headwinds across the region are affecting many and we have seen a significant switch in how people are using their disposable income. Despite that, we’re still seeing buoyant spending on luxury experiences and goods,” he said.
The average spending on luxuries by residents of Qatar is highest of five countries -- the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, he said, adding for Qatar residents, Dubai continued to be the number one destination for luxury spending.
The survey found that in Qatar, 41% of households spend $1,001-$5,000 on luxury items; 31% spend more than $5,000; 19% spend $501-$1,000; 8% spend $250-$500; and 1% spend less than $250.
It found that 53% of Qatar respondents plan 'experiental' luxury spending on holidays and spa treatments in 2016 and 47% in acquisitioned items (physical products) again the regional average of 52% and 48% respectively.
Spending on experiences include those towards holidays, personal wellness, fine dining, memberships, hobbies and sports; while acquisitioned goods include purchases towards high-end electronics, furniture, cars, luxury foods and beverage at home, fashion/designer wear and jewellery/watches.
On the overall region's perception towards luxury spending destination, 43% voted for Dubai, followed by 16% for Doha, 15% for Abu Dhabi, 14% for Kuwait, 4% for Beirut (Lebanon), 3% for Manama (Bahrain), 2% each for Amman (Jordan) and Muscat (Oman) and 1% for Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).
The survey also found that majority in Qatar did not cut back general spending in 2015 as only 24% of the respondents disclosed so; which however is slightly higher than the regional average of 20%.
As with everyday spending, there is also a change in the way people spend on luxuries. In Qatar, nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents plan to prioritise personal wellness in the next 12 months with fine dining the category to lose out.
"Personal wellness looks like it will be a big gainer in 2016," Khoury said, adding 42% of Qatar respondents contributed less to their savings and pensions.
The story is also broadly similar across all five countries surveyed. Looking at Qatar, 26% spent less on dining out in 2015 while 72% spent more on food and drinks for consumption at home – a clear shift in spending habits.
Qatar residents spend about 12% of the monthly earnings on luxuries, says Amex Middle East chief executive Mazin Khoury (inset)