Abigail Mamo by Alan Carville for Business Now magazine

Businesses that do not offer competitive discounts during Black Friday are risking “losing customers to other businesses if they aren’t served,” said Abigail Agius Mamo, CEO of the Malta Chamber of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

BusinessNow.mt spoke to Ms Agius Mamo after the Chamber of SMEs relaunch of their Black Friday business portal, blackfridaymalta.eu. Through this portal, members of the Chamber of SMEs can join freely and advertise their Black Friday offers.

During the conference held on Monday (today), President of the SME Chamber Paul Abela explained that this initiative was introduced to encourage the public to shop local, not only for the sake of supporting local businesses but also for consumers to have proper after-sales services, including guarantees. In addition, he explained that the Malta Chamber encouraged its members to offer “good discounts” to entice locals to shop from Malta and Gozo rather than going for international businesses.  

The SME Chamber represents several enterprises, making up businesses of various sizes, including micro-businesses. Although offering competitive discounts would merit more sales for businesses, this might not always be the case for small businesses owners, that might not be able to afford offering larger discounts.

Asked on the matter Ms Agius Mamo explained that years ago, when the Chamber of SMEs started promoting Black Friday, not everyone agreed with it.

“The majority of the time the consumer dictates. If there is consumer demand, and businesses won’t serve such demand, the person will buy from other businesses. We all know that during this month consumers are bombarded with offers, even from international brands and so we didn’t want Maltese businesses to be left behind,” she remarked.

On the other hand, she recognises that not all businesses afford to offer the same as others, but nonetheless reiterated that customers have certain expectations when it comes to deals and discounts. “Not being able to compete with other businesses might lead to losing customers.”

This portal is not new for the Chamber of SMEs, in fact it was originally launched in 2022. Asked about feedback received by businesses, Ms Agius Mamo stated that the demand for businesses to advertise on the portal shows that they see value in the initiative. “This year we’ve had more people join the initiative. In addition, we are introducing a voucher giveaway for consumers so that businesses gain more visibility through website traffic,” she explained.

Ms Agius Mamo stated that so far, 170 businesses have registered for this online portal, spanning over 500 outlets. Although the vast majority of the businesses are related to the fashion, IT, gifts and appliances industries, this year’s businesses are varied. “Some are offering car maintenance and translation services,” Ms Agius Mamo added.

Every year, right as the Black Friday excitement subsides, many are left wondering whether the deal they bargained for was a good deal in the first place. Some take to social media platforms to comment that prior to Black Friday pricing on items are increased strategically to trick people into thinking that the discounts are larger.

When asked what the Chamber of SMEs has done over the years to mitigate such practices, Ms Agius Mamo stated that when this is done, “one knows that he/she is misguiding the consumer.”

She remarked that the SME Chamber offers advisory services on customer service and that there are strict rules that need to be abided to. “We offer help for businesses, especially for those who are not aware on certain regulations. However, those who misguide consumers are short-sighted.”

Ms Agius Mamo tells BusinessNow.mt that people take the time to monitor prices before hand and so when they realise that they might be cheated, they will not waste time and turn to other businesses who offer similar products or services.

‘Reduced prices does not mean reduced rights’

The platform organises businesses by type and discount range along with showing the locality of the business, making it easier for consumers to map out their shopping.

President Abela stated that Black Friday serves as an occasion for businesses and consumers to cooperate with each other. “It also marks a special occasion in light of what we are facing as a country but also globally, inflation. However, Black Friday is always a good period, full of initiatives,” said Mr Abela.  

On the other hand, the Director of the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority Grace Stivala stated that November is now synonymous with Black Friday. “Since during these times, lots of people shop we have to remind everyone that reduced prices does not mean reduced rights.” She further reminded businesses of the importance of the regulations during this period.

Present for the conference was also the Minister for Inclusion, Voluntary Organisations and Consumer Rights Julia Farrugia Portelli that highlighted the Government’s work to protect both businesses and consumers’ rights and obligations. This includes the services of an online tribunal.

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