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A Eurostat update indicates that in December, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, retail sales were higher than for the same month of 2019.

The total retail volume in Malta for December 2020 was 3.3 per cent higher than in December 2019. Meanwhile, the increase in retail trade across the rest of the eurozone was of only 0.6 per cent, with Ireland and France leading the way with 11.1 per cent and 9.1 per cent respectively.

The Government, in a press statement on the topic, said that this meant the recovery in retail sales in Malta was almost six times that experienced in other countries.

The Government noted that in December there were 10 countries in the eurozone where sales remained lower than in 2019.

The worst performer was Slovenia, where sales figures were 13 per cent lower than in December 2019.

The Government noted that Malta has long turned the corner, with month-on-month sales increasing as soon as the economic regeneration plan was announced. It said that, due to the drastic decrease in retail sales by around 25 per cent experienced in March and April, the sector needed until December to reach the levels seen in 2019.

Sales of food, drinks and fuel remain lower than they were in 2019, reflecting the still-depressed state of the tourism sector, although increases in other sectors made up for this.

Despite the increase in sales, families have continued to increase their bank savings, with deposits reaching a record sum of €14.3 billion, an increase of over a billion when compared to the beginning of the pandemic.

The Government pointed out that in 2009, when the country was facing the knock on effects of the Great Recession, deposits went down by €100 million.

It stated that these results confirm that the aid provided by Government is making a difference, and explains why the optimism felt by Maltese and Gozitan families is among the highest in the EU according to regular surveys conducted by the European Commission.

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