A Black Friday with mixed results and feelings

Last Updated on Thursday, 2 December, 2021 at 1:10 pm by Andre Camilleri

One of the busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday presented a mixed bag of reactions from the island’s biggest retailers. However, shopkeepers expect good sales throughout the year, not just on Black Friday, The Chamber of Commerce said.

Despite the number of challenges faced by business, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry noted that this year’s Black Friday, like in the previous years, in general, left a positive impact on business, mainly since the majority anticipated the challenging environment and sought to work around it.

The Malta Business Weekly spoke to several business leaders within the retail sector for their views. John P. Casaletto, CEO of Intercomp, an authorised leading retailer of electrical branded goods, said: “We had an exceptionally strong Black Friday this year. At Intercomp we spread out our offers over the entire month of November to try to disperse customers’ visits and avoid the usual queue and congestion in our shops on the actual Black Friday. This worked very well, as we serviced many more customers than we did in previous years, and we managed to minimise crowds in the process. So, for us, it was a win-win situation.”

“Overall, online sales are much stronger than pre-pandemic levels. However, the highest peak in online sales was undoubtedly in the two months of the initial lockdown in 2020, as all our shopping mall outlets were closed. As for Black Friday specifically, the vast majority of customers still preferred to come to our shops again this year. However, we still registered several hundred online orders over the month of November while the Black Friday offers were on.”

A spokesperson for the popular Main Street shopping complex in the south of Malta stated: “Footfall was higher than 2020, but, understandably, not near the level of 2019. However, some tenants have reported figures on par with 2019 sales. We deem this year’s Black Friday as a positive day, despite having our largest retail outlet vacant from the departure of Debenhams. Although last Friday was a busy day, visits were spread across the day and no crowding or early queuing up outside of outlets was noted. However, we must also consider Thursday’s atrocious weather and the bad weather over the weekend hindered also onsite shopping trips. What’s more, many retailers promote offers during the whole month now and not just for one day only.”

Paul Fenech, president of the Republic Street Business Community Association, added: “The feedback I received on Black Friday was not positive for Valletta businesses. Perhaps people are becoming tired and the novelty is wearing off locally.”

In a recent statement, The Malta Chamber noted that there had been a significant shift in customer behaviour, particularly the move from shopping-in-store to shopping online, hence the importance for a business to keep abreast with and invest in digital innovation. Black Friday outcomes that occur once a year are not enough for businesses, particularly given the current circumstances of a challenging recovery period. The Malta Chamber believes that more incentives should help businesses innovate and strengthen their online presence and that further investment in infrastructure should be sought to cater for bad weather conditions. A resilient environment will help businesses anticipate and set trends while ensuring good sales all year round.

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