The point shopping mall

According to new figures from the European Union’s statistics arm, Eurostat, retail trade in Malta fell by three per cent in June, making it the hardest-hit market in the EU.

The data illustrates a fluctuating period for the Maltese economy, as during the previous month of May, as COVID restrictions began to be lifted locally, retail trade was actually up by 2.2 per cent, compared to the month before.

The slump in June’s month-on-month figure is representative of more than a decline relative to the strength of the month before, however, and even compared to June last year, Malta’s retail trade was muted compared to many of its European partners in the month under review.

Across the EU, the volume of retail trade is said to have increased by 5.3 per cent in June when compared to last year, whereas in Malta it only rose by 2.2 per cent.

These statistics lend weight to statements amongst local stakeholders that after a strong May in the retail sector, June’s results were much more restrained.

This week, speaking to BusinessNow.mt, Abigail Mamo, CEO of the Malta Chamber of SMEs speculated that the decrease was down to a decline in the number of tourists arriving in Malta as well as the resurgence of COVID in the country during the period.

“There is a very big correlation between the number of COVID cases and how often people are going out to spend money”, she explained, and with COVID cases once again jumping, people were spending less.

A general strong performance across the EU was led by significant increases in total retail trade in Ireland (9.4 per cent), Germany and Latvia (both 4.2 per cent).

After Malta, Austria and Croatia’s retail trade volumes fell the hardest, declining by 2.7 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively.

While the Eurostat report does not include data on individual product categories for specific countries, it does indicate that across the EU, trade in non-food products and automotive fuel in specialist shops rose by the highest, climbing 2.6 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively,

Despite Malta’s poor performance, it seems likely that July will bring better news, and Ms Mamo reported having seen a limited rebound in the month, with better trade volumes compared to June.

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