Although the rental market continues to dominate in Bahrain, more than half of the residents surveyed expect to buy their next home – 75% of whom are millennials, according to CBRE Bahrain’s Live-Work-Shop Report.
In the first survey of its kind, CBRE polled more than 100 people in Bahrain – representing multiple generations from Gen Z to Baby Boomers – to understand how their living, working, and shopping preferences will influence the future of real estate.
Heather Longden, Director – Advisory & Transactions, at CBRE in Bahrain comments: “Responses to the survey indicate evolving preferences in the way that people live, work and shop in Bahrain. The residential rental market dominates, with most respondents continuing to rent their accommodation; however, sentiment towards homebuying is strong, particularly amongst millennials.
The survey showed that there is a preference for greater flexibility in terms of time spent in the office. However, working from the office full-time remains the norm. Desire to work from the office is largely dependent on employees’ commute times. Other factors, including workplace quality, location and infrastructure were also considered important by a number of participants.
In terms of shopping preferences, we have found that in-person shopping continues to be the leading choice. 65% of consumers surveyed, however, do at least some of their shopping online. With customers valuing experience and convenience, we anticipate that retailers who offer both online and in-store options will have a competitive edge.”
The survey reveals that 53% of respondents currently rent their homes in Bahrain. The rental market continues to dominate, with the majority of expatriates, who make up 52% of the population, renting their homes, despite purchasing options available in designated zones. Future homebuying sentiment, however, is robust with 55% of respondents planning to buy their next home. 75% of those who plan to buy their next home are millennials (early and late), while 9% of the respondents who indicated they were looking to purchase were 18 – 24 year olds (Gen Z).
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a shift in home selection criteria. Outdoor space, quality property management and commute times are increasing in importance in Bahrain. Property pricing remains an important factor and will continue to dictate the options available to respondents, although this aspect was rated slightly lower than elsewhere in the world.
Despite a desire for greater flexibility, few companies in Bahrain are supporting the adoption of hybrid working. According to the survey, employees want to be able to work remotely more often. While 80% of respondents currently work full-time at the office, 82% say they prefer to work from home at least some of the time. Commuting times have the greatest impact on employees’ desire to visit the office. Employees with short commute times are more inclined to want to visit the office more frequently.
Additional factors driving office visitation preferences are secondary to commute times; however, quality, location and infrastructure remain determinants. A better quality workplace in terms of design and aesthetic is the second most important factor influencing the desire to work from the office, chosen by 44% of respondents. This factor includes aspects such as environmental attributes (natural light, air quality, etc.), as well as office layout and ergonomic features that help to support a modern workplace.
Most consumers in Bahrain still prefer to buy products in-store, with 91% preferring physical retailing either for all shopping needs or most. While the pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce in the region, the sector remains under-developed in Bahrain, with brick-and-mortar retail continuing to be the dominant sales channel for all key product types. Physical interaction with products is important for consumers, with 79% of in-store shoppers wanting to physically see and try the product before purchasing. A majority of responses, however, indicate shifting consumer expectations – with omnichannel shopping (a combination of both offline and online) becoming the norm, particularly for certain product groups.
Although consumers in Bahrain still prefer to do most of their shopping in-person, the pandemic has instigated a shift in shopping habits, whether this be more shopping online (36%), shopping locally rather than visiting large malls, or simply spending leisure time on other activities.