26 July 2006

The Web
Business Today

Bleak trade fair points to ailing economy

James Debono

A whopping 64 per cent of businesses who exhibited their wares at this years edition of the Trade Fair reported a decline in sales from last year with only 10 per cent reporting an improvement according to a business performance survey conducted by the Chamber of Small and Medium Sized Businesses - GRTU.
The bleak picture presented in the GRTU’s survey tallied with a survey conducted by sister publication MaltaToday last month which showed that a majority of respondents did not intend buying anything from the trade fair.
“The public is now percieving the fair as ‘an evening out’ rather than an excellent venue to see a variety of products and look for advantageous prices,” said the GRTU’s report.
Not surprsingly, when asked which sectors they think did well this year, many pointed to the catering services at the fair.
The MaltaToday survey showed that 58 per cent of trade fair visitors did not intend to buy anything. Although the newspaper survey showed that attendence remained high at 54 per cent, the majority were not in a spend thrift mood.
Only 32 per cent of those visiting the trade fair, planned to spend more than Lm50. A further 10 per cent planned to spend less than Lm50. Only 19 per cent said they planned to spend more than Lm300.
The data presented by the GRTU showed that no particular sector enjoyed an improvement in this year’s event.
82 per cent of those exhibiting furniture reported a decline in sales from last year. 70 per cent of those exhibiting household goods also reported a decline.
Many exhibitors reported that due to discount schemes being offered all year round the International Fair of Malta has lost its importance.
According to the GRTU’s report, exhibitors attributed the decline in sales to a lack of disposable income.
“The majority of exhibitors blame this year’s poor performance on the state of the economy in general and the lack of disposable income,” it said.
Not surprisingly the fuel price hike had a marked effect on exhibitors of electrically powered products. According to the GRTU’s survey this category was the worst hit. The silver lining was that sectors involved in solar energy and energy efficient products have reported improvements.


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