The January sales have given Valletta’s fashion retailers some breathing room, as shoppers’ appetite for a bargain remains strong despite the global pandemic.
Nonetheless, the revenue generated this year cannot compare to that of previous years, retailers say.
The effect of COVID-19 has been particularly pronounced in Valletta due to the sharp drop in tourist arrivals and move to teleworking for the many office workers in the capital.
Speaking to BusinessNow.mt, a representative for Pull & Bear said that the shop dealt with the drop in footfall by focusing on online sales, with shoppers only stepping inside the store to pick up their items.
“Let’s say it was not a disaster, as we feared. Sales are way down from last year, but thanks to our online shop we are still busy preparing packages for people to pick up.”
Christine Pace, Managing Director of Dorkins Ltd, who represents top fashion brands like Dorothy Perkins, Superdry, Clarks and more, said that the sales did meet the company’s lowered expectation.
“Compared to normal January sales, we’ve obviously done a lot worse, but we did reach our lowered COVID expectations,” she said.
“Now we are in the third week, and sales are down significantly, but that’s normal. We had a much stronger first week.”
Ms Pace explained how Dorkins had already downsized its stockholding in view of the uncertainty generated by the pandemic, putting it in a better position to weather the storm.
Jackie Urpani, co-owner and co-director of Accessorize, felt that the January sales were “nothing compared to last year”.
She compares the situation in Valletta to the one at Bay Street, another tourist hotspot, noting that the other Accessorize and Monsoon stores in Paola, Mosta, Qormi, Sliema and Gozo are all doing better.
“It’s just impossible with the way Valletta is,” she explained. “It’s empty, and as beautiful as it’s looking, we need tourists.”
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Seat Load Factor also stood strong during the period, with an increase of 6.8% when compared to 2019