Cinemas and fast fashion: Reforms change Saudi shopping habits


By Tom Arnold and Marwa Rashad

DUBAI/RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s malls and bazaars are changing as retailers embrace a shift in shopping habits brought about by reforms to diversify the economy away from oil.

Designer clothes stores and high-end chocolate and flower shops are shutting and fast-fashion, fast-food, budget stores and cinemas are moving in.

Cuts to electricity and petrol subsidies and a rise in VAT have eaten into household budgets and many are making savings by switching from luxury to budget goods.

At the same time, reforms to bring women into the work force and encourage entertainment has lifted other types of spending. The departure of thousands of foreign workers has hurt local bazaars and led to other changes.

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