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‘Rushed’ Decision To Open Without Detailed Plans Could Have ‘Catastrophic Repercussions’, 60 Shopowners Tell Robert Abela

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Over 60 shopowners and company-owners in Malta have written an open letter to Malta’s Prime Minister after reopening outlets on the 4th of May, expressing major concerns about long term plans for the economy.

The owners, who represent over 130 outlets and 650 employees, have asked for a clearer long term holistic plan so that they, and the Maltese people, can really begin planning ahead. 

Saying they sped to reopen their outlets with just two days notice just to experience sales lower than ever before – with an estimated 92% decrease in average sales as rents and costs remained the same – the shopowners urged for more clarity moving forward and the avoidance of situations that could jeopardise their operations.

“With this rushed decision, we were the ones who suffered the most, and there will be catastrophic repercussions if immediate decisions for support are not taken,” they said.

Saying both landlords and employees depended on them, with commerce being the “motor” that kept everything afloat, they said the decision to re-open shops without consulting shop-owners was “rushed”.

While the owners were happy to hear that they could re-open at first, they soon realised that their sales were going to be lower than ever before due to two reasons.

The first was that while they could re-open, customers were still being told to stay home. Shopowners believed this order should have been just for vulnerable people.

“The second factor was the restrictions on people trying on clothes, which people in this sector know is essential for clients,” they said. “We believe this restriction was the main reason for such a substantial decrease in sales this week.”

They called for a holistic long-term plan to avoid companies closing.

“We ask for a detailed plan with the opening dates of other establishments (like restaurants and places of recreation) so that people would be ready to buy again, knowing that things will be returning to normal shortly. This is what our neighbouring countries did,” they said.

Just today, Robert Abela announced that hairdressers and restaurants will be opening under new measures from next week, with a major announcement set for tomorrow.

The shopowners have since asked for a meeting with Economy Minister Silvio Schembri.

They ended by reminding the government that it was the small and medium-sized businesses that helped Malta’s internal economy continue and that the sacking of these shops’ employees, or their closures, must be avoided.

What do you think of the shopowners’ position?

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