Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 December, 2020 at 12:24 pm by Andre Camilleri
Businesses are witnessing better sales during the Christmas period when compared to the rest of 2020, but they expect results to be lower than those noted in 2019, Chamber of SMEs CEO Abigail Mamo told the Malta Business Weekly.
During the recent long weekend, a significant rise in consumer expenditure was noted.
Regardless, however, Mamo explained that when taking the pandemic into consideration, “the actual figures are significantly lower when compared to last year, but if one had to see the level of expectation it would be unrealistic to expect the same levels as 2019. All things considered, business are not disappointed with this year’s Christmas run up,” Mamo said.
She did say that there are signs that the industry is beginning to pick itself up again.
Mamo was able to provide certain figures pertaining to the effects of Covid-19 during the year and more specifically during the Christmas period.
She said that businesses are expecting 30% to 50% less sales compared to last year. If comparing the entire 2020 year with 2019 however, she said that this percentage is significantly less.
She stressed that some businesses are doing worse than others. She highlighted that a number of food and beverage establishments cannot, for example, sell alcohol, while all bar license holders had to close shop.
Considering the fact that there are almost 500 establishments that only serve alcohol, they of course suffered the biggest hit and their operation is still loss-making, she explained.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses worldwide. In Malta, the government introduced a number of schemes to help out. The most important aid scheme was the wage supplement
With the number of employees affected by the pandemic significantly high, the announcement of this measure in summer was a bit of relief for companies to be able to continue operating while keeping as much staff as possible.
The tourism industry is another sector that was hit relatively hard hit and the supplement has helped many keep their jobs.
When it comes to the vaccine, there is a glimmer of home, Mamo said. The business community is basing a lot on the fact that the vaccine will bring about a sense of normality next year. Although there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to vaccinating the population, especially when it comes to how long the vaccination process takes, “business are hopeful for a successful year.” She said, however, that businesses are preparing for a slow start to 2021 until vaccinations take place and people start feeling more comfortable going out.
All things considered, the usual trends at the beginning of the year such as the January sales will be an uplift to the business community. Mamo went on to explain given the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have had trouble planning for their Christmas stocks, resulting in a number of them having excess items. “This means that more sales will likely be available compared to usual”.
She also made an appeal to all consumers to spend their money on Christmas gifts at local outlets that employ people and families.