Good year for retailers

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Retailers are pleased with footfall in the shops recorded in 2022, especially over the holiday season when consumers headed to stores for their Christmas shopping boosted by their thirteenth salary.

Talking to the Financial Mirror, the general secretary of the Cyprus Retailers’ Association (PASYLE), Marios Antoniou, said shops were just shy of calling 2022 a phenomenal year if one considers the hike in the cost of living and overall economic uncertainty.

“The whole year was good to us, considering the difficulties people and businesses face.

“Our turnover in terms of volume was 92% of 2019 turnover, which was our best year on record,” said Antoniou.

He noted that in terms of value, their turnover was much bigger than that of 2019, but this was down to the increase in prices.

“Despite the financial crisis and people losing a large portion of their purchasing power, we did not record a drop in the number of sales or traffic in stores.”

Antoniou said Christmas Eve was the busiest day of the year, with Cypriots putting in their last-minute shopping.

He said that 2022’s good results were partly due to a pickup in tourist arrivals after two years of COVID restrictions.

“We may not have seen more tourists coming in our shops than in 2019, but retailers have recorded increased money spent by tourists”.

According to CyStat data, retail trade indicators significantly rose for the first 11 months of 2022.

For January – November, the retail trade turnover value index increased by 11.3%, and the volume index was up 2% compared to 2021.

The increase in the value index is largely due to strong inflationary trends and the fact that during the same period of 2021, restrictive measures against the pandemic were in force.

Retailers have also noticed changes in consumer shopping habits.

“Shoppers come into shops knowing exactly what they want and how much they will be asked to pay.

“Cypriot consumers now do their homework, compare prices before hitting the stores.”

Antoniou said increased traffic would continue during the first three weeks of January when stores have their traditional winter sales.

“Sales campaigns started on December 27 and have intensified since January 3.

“Discounts range between 20% and 35%, while larger discounts mainly concern old stock or specific pieces, which the shopkeepers want to make available.”

Difficult 2023

Looking ahead, Antoniou said that 2023 would be a difficult year as the cost of living continues to rise.

“If the war in Ukraine drags on, pushing the cost of living higher, then the sector will be faced with uncertainty and insecurity throughout the year”.

The managing director and co-owner of the My Mall Limassol shopping centre, Andreas Hadjimitsis: “Malls seem to have an unprecedented year, especially in terms of turnover for almost all businesses.”

“We consider 2022 one of our best years, even better than 2019.

“Consumers choose malls for shopping because they offer more security and less hassle, while at the same time, they have more options concentrated in one place”.

Hadjimitsis also pointed out that discounts, which are expected to start officially next Tuesday, have already begun.

Metropolis Mall in Larnaca also reported a very good year.

Marilena Palazi, the mall’s communication advisor, told the Financial Mirror there is no measure of comparison because it is their first full year of operation.

At the Metropolis mall, as she said, various festive events attracted young and old.

“The traffic in the shops is very satisfactory; the cafes and restaurants are constantly full”.

Palazi said that Larnaca mall’s retailers expected more traffic over the January sales campaigns.

“We expect to see many people coming to the mall this weekend, as the Metropolis Mall is still in a festive mood, with several events planned from Friday to Sunday”.

Palazi said that although 2023 poses its own challenges, the Metropolis Mall and retailers are optimistic about the prospects.

George Pissis, Nicosia Mall Marketing Manager, said increased footfall in 2022 indicates that the market is recovering from the past three years of COVID rules.

“If we consider that we still had restrictions in place during the first half of the year, then we must say that 2022 results are more than satisfactory,” said Pissis.

He said the ongoing increase in the cost of living would be a challenge; however, it is one that retailers will have to face.

“We need to invest in setting up the mechanisms that will keep consumer interest alive and invest in the overall experience customers get when visiting our stores”.

Pissis said post-Christmas sales remind retailers of the “good, old days”.

“Perhaps the restriction of previous years, but also the price increases that we expect to see in the coming months, have created favourable conditions for stores with good offers and lower prices”.