From Black Friday to Black Month

Black Friday has evolved into a month of discount shopping as consumers seek savings for their holiday purchases but are the discounts real?

Black Friday has become a staple in the shopping calendar
Black Friday has become a staple in the shopping calendar

Maltese businesses are offering competitive discounts which compare with those in other countries during Black Friday, SME Chamber CEO Abigail Mamo said. 

“We are seeing discounts, across a number of different retail stores, which are very close to what is offered abroad,” Mamo told MaltaToday.  

As the Christmas season approaches, Black Friday, or more aptly termed Black Month, has become a fixture for shoppers seeking savings during their holiday purchases. 

Black Friday originated in the United States in the 1950s, marking the official start of the holiday shopping season. The term ‘Black Friday’ initially referred to the disruptive pedestrian and vehicular traffic in Philadelphia, as crowds swarmed the city the day after Thanksgiving, often leading to chaos.  

However, retailers soon recognised an opportunity to turn this day into a positive by offering significant discounts to attract shoppers and boost sales. 

Over the years, Black Friday evolved into a nationwide phenomenon, with stores across the country opening early and offering substantial discounts on various products. It became a calendar event, drawing massive crowds seeking deals on electronics, clothing, and other coveted items.  

The rise of online shopping further transformed Black Friday into a week-long or even month-long event, with retailers offering discounts both in-store and online, catering to the changing preferences of consumers. 

MaltaToday visited Tigne’ Point in Sliema on Friday to see how shoppers felt about Black Friday

Some said they saw no substantial sales, saying it was only available on a limited number of items. 

“Online they are much better, it’s just a bigger risk with sizes,” a woman said. Another saids he sought out the period to do Christmas shopping, hoping to save some money when buying holiday gifts.

Streamlining operations during Black Friday  

Abigail Mamo said the Black Friday period has become crucial for Maltese businesses, and years of tweaking the strategy has streamlined how shops operate.  

“A lot of problems have been addressed over the years. For example, two years ago, shops were ordering stock and not receiving it in time, but this year this did not happen,” she said.  

She said businesses have been encouraged to shift their strategy and spread their discounts over a longer span of time. 

“Shops are now ordering a large stock, and instead of offering an enormous sale on Friday, they are offering a lower discount which is spread over three weeks,” she said.  

For both the consumer and the vendor, to have sales and discounts spread over three weeks, rather than concentrating on a single day, makes more sense, Mamo insisted.  

“It means shops can sell to a larger number of customers, and customers can get their hands on more items at a reduced price,” she said.

Malta offering good discounts despite insularity 

The chamber CEO rubbished the myth that Maltese retailers, despite the challenges they pose, are not offering “good discounts”. 

“When we analyse the overall situation, we are quite close to what is offered abroad,” she said.  

MaltaToday reached out to Forestals CEO Luke Tabone, who agreed with Mamo’s statement, saying his stores offer competitive discounts.  

“We have a 58inch 4k Android TV which is being sold at €344, when it is normally sold at €470. I think that is significant,” he said.  

Tabone said the company is noticing patterns that suggest people are doing their Christmas shopping earlier than in previous years.  

“Before the bulk of Christmas shopping was carried out between 8 December to Christmas eve. Nowadays people are doing it earlier and starting in November,” he said.  

Abigail Mamo said one has to understand the unique challenges which come with being an insular nation.  

“Getting stock in Malta is a much more arduous process than in the US. Here businesses and enterprises have it delivered by sea, and it comes at an added cost. In the US, a truck leaves the factory or warehouse and delivers it to you,” she said. “We also have less footfall in Malta, and that is a crucial factor as well.” 

The Black Friday phenomenon doesn’t seem that it will go away anytime soon, and Mamo insists Malta cannot get left behind.  

“Businesses have to participate, or else customers will have no other option but to look beyond our shores to countries like Italy and Sicily which are not far away,” she said.