“2020 has been a hard year for all of the economy, no less the retail sector which has had to face some of the hardest challenges to date,” the President of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, David Xuereb, said.
“From the feedback we have from members operating in this field, it is understood that, while they are optimistic about the upcoming Christmas period, which will hopefully bring about a much needed impetus into business, this is expected to be a very particular festive season as many operators expect sales to be significantly slower than the previous Decembers they are used to.”
Retention of appreciable sales “will have a lot to do with how safe their customers and visitors feel in their outlets and by how confidence will be brought about by the mature actions of all of us,” he continued.
“Significant investment has been made by most retail outlets to enable a credible and solid recovery of losses endured since March,” he added.
However, while “the public is still expected to make purchases ahead of Christmas, as the country closes off one of the toughest years in experience, general expected reduction of consumer spending power will make its mark.”
To help boost sales, The Malta Chamber had proposed that businesses ought to extend their Black Friday offers over a longer period of time, the President reminded.
This was to entice customers to visit their outlets, while avoiding overcrowding.
“The Chamber’s recommendations have consistently relied on the basic principles that will keep customers healthy and that will remain its advice until such time as the term ‘COVID’ starts forming part of our history books.
“This same principle may very well apply to the Christmas season, as retailers are expected to address these challenges creatively, possibly turning them into an opportunity.”
Looking ahead, he said that the second batch of Government vouchers, expected to be rolled out in January, “is certainly expected to help businesses recuperate some lost ground at the start of the new year,” he concluded.