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Dubai: Per capita online shopping in the UAE reached $1,193 (Dh4,378) in the fourth quarter of 2008, the highest in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, according to the latest MasterCard survey.

Online shoppers made an average of 3.6 purchases in the four quarter of 2008, compared with 3.1 during the same quarter in 2007.

Surprisingly, not only have UAE consumers shopped more frequently despite the economic situation, with the exception of Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, all other markets showed an increased intention for future online shopping compared to a year ago.

Shoppers in the UAE conducted 26 per cent of their overall shopping online, and 59 per cent of them splashed out on airline tickets - the number one purchase according to the report.

Shopping is something of a national pastime in the UAE, especially in the heat of the summer months. Dubai has thrown itself wholeheartedly into the glittery world of retail, reflected in the vast acres of shopping malls that sprawl all over the country.

So does this mean the popularity of online shopping increases during a market downturn?

"In mature markets this is probably true because people look for better bargains and can make comparisons of the deals. However, in a market like ours, online shopping ... is in the initial phase of maturing. It is the start of the curve. That probably is a bit of a barrier, but the proportion of people browsing online to find out information is increasing," Himanshu Vashishtha, director of consumer research for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at Nielsen, said.

Around 37 per cent of people surveyed bought home appliances and electronic products and 30 per cent paid for hotel accommodation online.

 

 

 

 

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