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MALTATODAY 26 November 2023

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 26 NOVEMBER 2023 NEWS MALTESE businesses are offer- ing competitive discounts which compare with those in other countries during Black Friday, SME Chamber CEO Abigail Ma- mo said. "We are seeing discounts, across a number of different retail stores, which are very close to what is of- fered abroad," Mamo told Malta- Today. As the Christmas season ap- proaches, Black Friday, or more aptly termed Black Month, has become a fixture for shoppers seeking savings during their holi- day purchases. Black Friday originated in the United States in the 1950s, mark- ing the official start of the holiday shopping season. The term 'Black Friday' initially referred to the dis- ruptive pedestrian and vehicular traffic in Philadelphia, as crowds swarmed the city the day after Thanksgiving, often leading to chaos. However, retailers soon recog- nised an opportunity to turn this day into a positive by offering sig- nificant discounts to attract shop- pers and boost sales. Over the years, Black Friday evolved into a nationwide phe- nomenon, with stores across the country opening early and of- fering substantial discounts on various products. It became a calendar event, drawing massive crowds seeking deals on electron- ics, clothing, and other coveted items. The rise of online shopping fur- ther transformed Black Friday into a week-long or even month- long event, with retailers offering discounts both in-store and on- line, catering to the changing pref- erences of consumers. MaltaToday visited Tigne' Point in Sliema on Friday to see how shoppers felt about Black Friday. Some said they saw no sub- stantial sales, saying it was only available on a limited number of items. "Online they are much better, it's just a bigger risk with sizes," a woman said. Another saids he sought out the period to do Christmas shopping, hoping to save some money when buying holiday gifts. Streamlining operations during Black Friday Abigail Mamo said the Black Fri- day period has become crucial for Maltese businesses, and years of tweaking the strategy has stream- lined how shops operate. "A lot of problems have been addressed over the years. For ex- ample, two years ago, shops were ordering stock and not receiving it in time, but this year this did not happen," she said. She said businesses have been encouraged to shift their strategy and spread their discounts over a longer span of time. "Shops are now ordering a large stock, and instead of offering an enormous sale on Friday, they are offering a lower discount which is spread over three weeks," she said. For both the consumer and the vendor, to have sales and dis- counts spread over three weeks, rather than concentrating on a single day, makes more sense, Ma- mo insisted. "It means shops can sell to a larger number of customers, and customers can get their hands on more items at a reduced price," she said. Malta offering good discounts de- spite insularity The chamber CEO rubbished the myth that Maltese retailers, despite the challenges they pose, are not offering "good discounts". "When we analyse the overall situation, we are quite close to what is offered abroad," she said. MaltaToday reached out to Forestals CEO Luke Tabone, who agreed with Mamo's statement, saying his stores offer competitive discounts. "We have a 58inch 4k Android TV which is being sold at €344, when it is normally sold at €470. I think that is significant," he said. Tabone said the company is no- ticing patterns that suggest people are doing their Christmas shop- ping earlier than in previous years. "Before the bulk of Christmas shopping was carried out between 8 December to Christmas eve. Nowadays people are doing it ear- lier and starting in November," he said. Abigail Mamo said one has to understand the unique challenges which come with being an insular nation. "Getting stock in Malta is a much more arduous process than in the US. Here businesses and enterprises have it delivered by sea, and it comes at an added cost. In the US, a truck leaves the facto- ry or warehouse and delivers it to you," she said. "We also have less footfall in Malta, and that is a cru- cial factor as well." The Black Friday phenomenon doesn't seem that it will go away anytime soon, and Mamo insists Malta cannot get left behind. "Businesses have to participate, or else customers will have no other option but to look beyond our shores to countries like Italy and Sicily which are not far away," she said. KARL AZZOPARDI From Black Friday to Black Month SME Chamber CEO Abigail Mamo

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