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Analysis by Dubai Chamber reveals consistent and positive performance of e-commerce platforms during COVID-19

A recent analysis by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed that e-retail companies in the UAE have succeeded despite the challenges of high demand due to the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) and disruption of supply chain worldwide. The companies have managed to achieve benefits beyond the domestic market to include neighboring markets as well.

The analysis, based on updated data from Euromonitor attributed this success to the fact that it was due to the support of government initiatives, the presence of modern infrastructure, and a strong logistical sector, which   was reflected in the resilience of e-commerce in the UAE.

The analysis reviewed the percentage of goods that are not in stock in 38 major economies around the world, and monitored the levels of inventory for the major e-commerce platforms, and the daily percentage of stock keeping units (SKUs) that were marked as goods not available on the retailer websites for each country.

Availability of essential items

Table 1, below, compares the current levels of essential items availability (on Apr 21), with the pre-pandemic levels (on Jan 21) across 38 advanced and emerging market economies. Countries are ranked based on their figures during April 21; with lower percentages of out of stock essential items indicating limited disruption due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Table 1: Percentage of essential items out of stock (ranked based on 21 April figures, lower is better)

1S. Korea0.10.221UK6.410.2
11Argentina5.93.831Hong Kong, China13.618.7
12Czech Republic2.74.032Canada13.320.2
14Finland12.95.434South Africa19.221.6
16New Zealand1.16.836Belgium12.623.9

Source: Euromonitor

These data show that the UAE occupies an advanced position globally, due to the UAE’s pivotal position in the global trade map, its large storage capacity and its extensive logistical networks which contributed to record low percentages of materials that were out of stock before the outbreak of the epidemic (3.4% on January 21).

The country’s position further advanced after the outbreak of the epidemic, as unified exceptional measures taken by the government, logistical support companies and commercial companies helped to ensure the continuous flow of necessary materials during the emerging pandemic, and this resulted in a decrease of this percentage to 1.8% by April 21, which made the UAE occupy sixth position in the world, surpassing many developed economies.

The benefits of the UAE’s strong logistics and warehousing sector extend beyond the domestic market to neighboring markets, for example, Saudi Arabia, which has a similar low rate of 2.2%, given that the Kingdom is the top regional trading partner for the UAE.

The emerging market economies in general recorded a low percentage of the basic materials that ran out of stock because most of their products are obtained locally, while the developed markets have more sophisticated supply chains as a large part of their products are brought in from abroad, in order to take advantage of the low production costs. This explains why the great impact of the emerging epidemic is more evident in e-commerce supply chains in Europe and North America.

India is an exceptional case among emerging market economies, and this is already reflected in its record of a high percentage of commodities that have run out of stock even before the outbreak of the epidemic. This could indicate the existence of challenges facing the e-commerce environment where it is hampered by the lack of advanced infrastructure, which is a key factor to facilitate the flow of goods.


Availability of items in UAE – by category

Breaking down product availability in UAE by category reveals that the daily proportion of out of stock items are maintained low across the board (see table 2).

Table 2: Percentage of essential items out of stock in UAE during April 21, 2020 (by category)

CategoryProduct% out of stock
Beauty and Personal CareLiquid Soap7
Bar Soap1.4
Hand Care1.7
Consumer HealthMultivitamins0.4
Vitamin C0
Fresh FoodEggs0
Starchy Roots0
Home CareBleach0
Hand Dishwashing0
Home Care Disinfectants5.9
Multipurpose Cleaners5.3
Packaged FoodDried Pasta3.9
Shelf Stable Fruits and Vegetables1.7
Tissue & HygieneGeneral Purpose Wipes0
Toilet Paper1.5


According to the availability schedule of products in the Emirates, stocks of low-life products, such as fresh food, are always refilled with a rate of products not available in stock at zero or close to zero for basic materials such as eggs, poultry, starchy roots and vegetables. On the other hand, items with a long shelf life may sometimes experience slightly higher rates of daily stock outs. This is understandable, as is often the case during a pandemic as many consumers panic and tend to buy and store items that fall under home care and canned food categories.

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