Market COVID-19 Situation Report

KUWAIT – FEBRUARY 2020

The foodservice, fashion, and entertainment market performances in countries with higher rates of COVID-19 infection rates have been severe due to shaken consumer confidence and government forced quarantine and warning measures to reduce/avoid community spread of the virus. The first report cases in the GCC were in UAE with 4 infections in January of 2020 which was contained at the airport.

The infections however continued to grow yet captured at ports of entry but remained at low rates in the GCC in January and most of February. Iran registered its first cases on the 20th of February which kept rising expectantly. Such fast-viral spread led many of the GCC nationals who were spending holiday time in the country to return and cause the first cases (aside from those registered in UAE).

Kuwait which had around 800 tourists in Iran at the time started evacuating its citizens from the country on the 24th of February. Kuwait registered its first cases on the 24th and the numbers continued to increase as more evacuation flights arrived in the country. Kuwait registered the highest infections of COVID-19 in the GCC by the end of February with 45 cases. Kuwaitis were also vacationing in other parts of the world where the virus started spreading such as Italy and Thailand which caused their relatives in the country to be more exposed to the international and local coverage of the virus.

Photo by Yasser Al Zayat
Photo by Yasser Al Zayat

Such exposure caused the fashion, foodservice, and entertainment sectors to tank drastically compared to previous years. The average revenue per store across the different highlighted markets registered a slight decline in performance due to the national holidays at the end of February every year. Performances however used to recover quickly as soon as travelers come back in March. 2020 registered the worst revenue performances in the last week of February with negative growth between 60% to 95% across the highlighted industries.

Fashion and entertainment registered the highest negative rates of -85% and -87% respectively. Foodservice dine in and delivery witnessed a less severe decline with -66% and -37% respectively. The performances across the different industries started to slowly recover on the 28th of February onwards due to the fast government response to the disease. Foodservice delivery and dine in is recovering faster than other sectors and are expected to slowly recover in March as long as low new infections are recorded especially among the expat population. Fashion and entertainment (family entertainment and cinemas) are expected to take longer to recover due to consumers allocating their disposable income toward necessary crisis spending than leisure spending on entertainment and fashion.

Photo by Yasser Al Zayat

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