Since the launch of GEMMA in November 2017 GEMMA launched the Onfoq bil-Ghaqal Campaign. 2020’s campaign kicked off on Thursday 10th with a webinar on spending during the festive period.
The panel consisted of Mrs Denise Farrugia, Project Leader for Hiliet il-Komunita at the Agency for Community and Therapeutic Services; Ms Abigail Mamo, CEO at the Chamber of SMEs, and Mr Ben Camille a well know local actor, and Ambassador for GEMMA. The panel discussed a presentation carried out by Ms Marika Fsadni on two survey, one in 2018 and the other in 2019, carried out by M.Fsadni & Associates on Xmas and New Year spending on behalf of GEMMA. The Webinar was moderated by Mr Mario Cassar, GEMMA Team Member.
One of the key results which was consistent in both surveys was that around 95% of consumers who took advantage of Black Friday deals saved €50 or less while just over 40% save up to €100. It was noted, however, that one needs to keep sustainability in mind as unbridled consumerism impacted negatively both on the environment and favoured present consumption over savings for future needs.
Ben Camille admitted that he was not big on the whole idea of presents at Christmas and the family had come up with the idea of Secret Santa so that the gift given would be significant rather than splitting one’s budget over many small gifts. With regards to budget setting, the surveys found that at least 29% (in 2018) and as many as 47% (in 2019) do not set a budget prior to shopping for Christmas presents. Even at the lower figure, this continues to be a worry statistic and reinforces findings in the Financial Literacy Study of 2018 which found that 33% of adults’ experiences situations where their income did not cover expenses.
Christmas can be a hard time for those who may not afford presents for their children, but Denise Farrugia noted that it would be erroneous to think this a universal truth applying to all vulnerable groups. Indeed, many may be temporarily passing through a vulnerable time and find it difficult to make ends meet especially around Christmas. Mario Cassar, the webinar moderator, noted that the surveys for both 2018 and 2019 indicated that around 14% of respondents did not have enough money to buy presents which also coincided with the fact that some 16% of the population was considered to be at risk-of-poverty in 2018.
A whopping 77% to 81% claimed that they had left over food when hosting friends and family but only between 1 and 4% threw leftovers away, indicating that with more planning, households can save a substantial amount of money.
Debating the effect of the current COVID-19 pandemic on retail business, Abigail Mamo was of the belief that consumers were shifting their consumption pattern to goods for the home and “self-gifting” although overall business was low.
The following are some other interesting findings that came out during the survey:
- In 2019 presents bought by a person included immediate family members – 96%; close friends – 36%, relatives – 21%; whilst in 2018 present bought person included immediate family members – 97%; close friends – 30%, relatives – 13%.
- Both in 2018 and 2019 the overwhelming of persons did not exceed their budget when buying an expensive gift – 72% and 74% respectively.
- Of interest in 2018 and 2019 of persons did not use Black Friday to buy Xmas presents – 80% and 84% respectively.
- The number of persons who used credit cards to purchase Xmas presents was relatively low – at 17% and 15% respectively in 2018 and 2019; with the highest credit card users being the ’30-49 year old cohort’ having a tertiary level of education and are employed.
- Of those who used the credit card to buy Xmas presents 56% and 75 in 2018 and 2019 respectively did not take accounts of penalties and interests to be paid in the event that they are unable to pay their January credit card bill on time.
- A very high percentage stated that they had enough money to purchases the Xmas presents desired – 88% and 86% in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
- In 2019 53% said that they maintained the use of well being services in Xmas as the previous year; 8% less the 2019 finding (61%).
- 48% and 53% stated that they bought new clothes during the Festive season for social events / parties