19 DECEMBER 2001
A survey conducted by the GRTU in the first week of the Christmas shopping spree has found that 76 per cent of retailers expect things to go better even though just over half of them reported having good sales.
The survey covered the period between the 13 and 18 December. This is considered to be the first week of the pre-Christmas shopping rush and when asked how the first round of Christmas shopping has gone, 50.8 per cent answered Good while 49.2 per cent responded in the negative.
The survey confirms that the Christmas period is the make or break period for shop owners so much so that 61 per cent said that they stocked more products to cater for the festive season.
Prior to the first shopping week, The Malta Financial and Business Times had spoken to a number of retailers and in a story carried last week, the mood expressed by the retailers was a jittery one.
Sales were not quite what they expected, although toyshops had a different story to tell. But the situation, although uncertain, was expected because the shopping spree usually kicks off after 13 December.
The razor thin difference between retailers reporting good and bad sales in the GRTU survey shows that the situation is still very fluid. However, retailers are optimistic that things would improve.
Some businessman questioned by The Malta Financial and Business Times were hoping that people might have more cash in hand after cancelling trips abroad following the 11 September attacks. Others welcomed the Income Tax refunds sent at the end of November and the beginning of December because they put more cash in circulation.
However, whether people will decide to spend their money or cling on
to it because of the economic slowdown will become clearer during the
second shopping week when gift panic takes over.