Retail clothes rack

Fashion retailers in Malta are hopeful that this year’s edition of Black Friday will be better than last year’s, but a global microchip shortage means white goods and electronics stores are less optimistic.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging and restrictions keeping many shoppers away last year, reached out to retailers to gauge their thoughts now that the virus is less of an issue, and to ask whether the global supply chain crisis has affected their plans for 26th November.

“Our staff are geared to offer the best possible service to its walk-in clients whilst ensuring their personal health and safety and that of our customers,” a representative of sportswear and fashion importer Hudson Group said.

“The global supply chain crisis has had an effect…yet through constant contact with the brands we represent and our merchandising and buying team we feel equipped to offer quality products to our customers,” she added.

The positive sentiment was shared by Zara and Zara Homes, who said they had a good 2020 and were expecting more of the same.

Jackie Urpani, co-owner of British fashion brands Monsoon and Accessorize, said that despite increased costs related both to Brexit and the supply chain crisis, stores were performing much better this year.

Still, Mrs Urpani said she was not a big fan of the Black Friday concept, as she felt companies were pressured into giving discounts at a profitable time of year.

She also lamented that shipments were taking double the amount of time to arrive from the UK, increasing from two or three weeks to five weeks.

“Once the goods arrive in Malta, they sit in customs for 10 days because they’re understaffed and their IT systems are outdated,” she said.

Meanwhile, Forestals CEO Mark Tabone noted that many retailers had diluted Black Friday into a Black Friday Week and sometimes even a whole month, which somewhat reduced the day’s significance.

“It’s no longer ethical to create a scenario in which crowds of people queue outside a shop from 3am,” he said.

Electronics and appliances have been particularly hard hit by supply chain issues, specifically a shortage in microchips.

As a result, Mr Tabone said, for the first time in 10 years, Black Friday discounts would not be able to keep up with the price increase of some products.

“Normally shops compete for customers based on who can offer the best price, whereas this year, they’re competing on who can offer a specific product in the first place.”

Earlier this week, the Malta Chamber of SMEs launched its Black Friday directory, in which more than 200 of the chamber’s members’ special offers are listed.

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