Editorial: A busy time for business

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 December, 2023 at 3:11 pm by Andre Camilleri

Christmas is the busiest time for many businesses.

Whether it is outlets trying their best to sell their products, hotels opening their doors to people on holiday or restaurants offering their space for gatherings, the next two weeks are extremely important for their future.

Some will be making up for a difficult year, others will be disappointed that their expectations were not met, while some more will be happy that it was not as bad as they thought.

Competition out there is cut-throat.

Restaurants aim to provide the best value-for-money experience, and have to think of keeping their price as low as possible while offering a good deal, but at the same time making sure that some kind of profit is made.

Hotels, apart from other complexes on the island, have to compete with other destinations, and this is why they are not too happy to see that, overall, Malta as a whole is losing its attractiveness because it has become too over-populated and too chaotic. Nobody likes losing precious hours blocked in traffic while on a short holiday.

Outlets, for their part, are not having an easy time with many of their customers shifting to online buying which has become easier and cheaper. Added to this, there are then many who believe that the best gift is money, which does not necessarily translate into purchases.

At least, after some years of great uncertainties because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the end-of-year festivities this time are not dampened by worries and restrictions. 2022 was already far better than 2020 and 2021 were, but many people were still fearful and stayed back. This year, the situation appears to be much better, and it can be said that we have gone back to what it was in 2019.

There are, however, other issues that businesses have to contend with, and one important factor is inflation. People are seeing that their purchasing power is being cut. Prices of products and services have been increasing at an alarming state for two years, and the corresponding wage rise (Cost of Living Adjustment ordered by the government included) is not enough.

There are families who have had to cut down on their consumption because of this. The COLA for 2024 will be the highest ever but, even before employees start to benefit from this, they are paying higher costs for important items. The price of milk, for example, will go up as from tomorrow.

Naturally, businesses have their own expenses to meet. They have their own salaries to pay, and the products they have to buy and the services they have to use have also gone up in price for them too. It is a vicious circle that is not easy to overcome, and not all businesses manage to juggle the situation well.

At least, inflation is showing signs of subsiding. Prices are still going up, but not in the same proportion as they were. Maybe, at this time next year, we will be facing an improved situation.

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In 1994, the Malta Business Weekly became the first newspaper fully dedicated to business. Today this newspaper is a leader in business and financial news. Together with the launch of the MBW newspaper, the company started organising various business breakfasts to discuss various current issues that were targeting the business community in Malta.