Online shopping / Pexels

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of Malta’s online shoppers buy from local stores’ websites, a survey conducted by The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, in collaboration with local consulting firm misco has revealed.

Over recent years, Malta has experienced a rapid and dynamic transformation in its social media landscape, significantly influencing how people, businesses, and communities interact and engage with one another.

As a result, The Malta Chamber and misco conducted the ‘misco Social Media Usage Trends Survey 2023/24,’ the findings of which were presented during an event held on Wednesday (today). The survey pointed towards valuable insights into the strategies, challenges, and opportunities associated with the rapid evolution of digital communication platforms.

misco conducted the survey among a representative sample of participants drawn from its random probability based online panel. The fieldwork took place on February 2024. The report looked at the increasing ownership of smartphones (now at 91 per cent of respondents) as well as for what reasons respondents use the internet the most.

Interestingly, the predominant online activity is still sending or receiving emails, coming in at 91 per cent. This has been top of the most popular online activities in misco’s annual survey since 2017. Users also reported banking (84 per cent) and paying bills (83 per cent) to be notable reasons for using the internet.

77 per cent of respondents stated that during the past 12 months, they purchased products or services online. Online shopping has grown in popularity over recent years, yet it remains most prevalent among those aged 25 to 34, with 87 per cent of consumers in this age group continuing to shop online.

People within this bracket tend to have to balance busy work schedules, social activities, and family responsibilities, and hence online shopping presents a convenient way to make purchases without having to physically go to stores.

While there has been an increase from 2023 (59 per cent), individuals aged 55 and over are still the least likely to make online purchases (66 per cent).

Additionally, respondents were also asked if they buy from local retailers or from foreign retailers when shopping online. 63 per cent of online shoppers stated that they purchase from local stores, further emphasising the need for local businesses to have an online presence.

37 per cent of respondents stated that they buy mostly from foreign retailers, 11 per cent buy mostly from local retailers, and 52 per cent said that they buy from a mix of both.

Clothing, footwear and accessories (66 per cent), take-out food (62 per cent) and flight tickets for leisure purposes (56 per cent) were the main products or services that respondents purchased online over the past 12 months.

Marthese Portelli
The Malta Chamber CEO Marthese Portelli during her opening speech

In her opening speech during the event presenting the results, Marthese Portelli, The Malta Chamber CEO, emphasised that understanding consumer behaviour and market trends is fundamental to The Malta Chamber’s philosophy.

“The Malta Chamber’s mission is clear. We believe that digitalisation is key for business to succeed and will therefore continue fronting policy change and we will continue providing you with invaluable insights,” she said.

Dr Portelli noted that amidst this digital revolution, it is imperative to remember that technology should serve humanity, not the other way around.

Rebecca Gera
misco director of marketing and opinion research unit Rebecca Gera

While presenting the findings, misco director of marketing and opinion research unit Rebecca Gera said that this year’s results reveal a “growing acceptance of online advertising on social platforms, despite user discomfort with targeted ads.”

“Moreover, while online shopping stabilises, there’s a notable increase in the intensity of actions, with diverse purchases on the rise,” she affirmed. She added that given that many online shoppers shop local, local enterprises need to “establish a digital presence.”

The event also featured a panel discussion made up of Ballotra Media CEO Nick Bugeja, University of Malta head of the marketing department Franco Curmi, P. Cutajar & Co Ltd head of marketing Francesca Zammit Cutajar, and Corporate ID Group PR and corporate communications director James Vella Clarke, who discussed a range of topics.

Rachel Bondi Attard
The Malta Chamber head of media and communications Rachel Bondi Attard

Closing the event, The Malta Chamber head of media and communications Rachel Bondi Attard called on businesses to embrace the digital revolution.

“It’s time to kick our digital game into high gear, harnessing the power of smartphones, social media, and all things digital to take your businesses to new heights. Let’s also remain mindful of the importance of education in shaping digital literacy and the integrity of information in combating the spread of fake news,” she added.

The full report can be viewed here.

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