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Parking, public transport major concerns for retailers

(File picture)

(File picture)

Parking, accessibility and public transport are the key factors affecting local retailers in Malta’s primary commercial districts, according to 23 per cent of operators, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study has found.

Despite these concerns, most retailers believe business will be positive or stable this year after reporting a slower or flat season between December and January.

Information for the barometer of retail market sentiment was collected during the third week of March among the food and beverage, clothing, ICT, cultural and recreational retail business community in Valletta, Sliema, Ħamrun and Paola.

Retailers in these shopping districts also cited competition, customer spending ability and utility costs among the factors affecting their activity.

The barometer reveals Christmas activity slowed considerably in Paola, where 56 per cent of respondents said December to January sales were down compared to 2011; 53 per cent of Ħamrun retailers reported a decrease in business, followed by Valletta (49 per cent) and Sliema (40 per cent).

The negative sentiment in Paola and Ħamrun appears to linger for the rest of this year. In Paola, 44 per cent of retailers have a negative outlook, while 37 per cent are confident about the year’s prospects. In Ħamrun, 42 per cent are negative with 29 per cent expecting flat year-on-year sales. In Sliema, 44 per cent are positive, and 27 per cent expect sales to be the same as last year. In the capital, 35 per cent expect sales levels to remain unchanged, 33 per cent are positive, 25 per cent are negative.

Valletta retailers (36 per cent) are the ones to be most concerned about parking for customers, followed by Sliema (16 per cent). Sliema (27 per cent) and Paola (23 per cent) are the two areas to be most worried about competition.

Paola and Ħamrun are more worried about utility bills (23 and 24 per cent) than Valletta and Sliema (11 and 10 per cent).

Sliema’s business also raised the issue of the affect of politics on their business in the wake of the general election – six per cent of Sliema retailers said politics impacted their business, compared to four per cent in Paola, two per cent in the capital, and none at all in Ħamrun.

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