The Malta Independent 15 August 2018, Wednesday

End of Christmas cheer

Thursday, 18 January 2018, 09:44 Last update: about 8 months ago

GRTU, the retailers' association, will today give its annual report on the retailing sector especially during the Christmas period.

It is an annual exercise which usually ends up with little more than half the members saying they did better than last year and little less than half the members saying they did worse.

Even before this announcement, however, there were some comments in the public sphere coming from GRTU members which were not all complimentary.

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The usual GRTU focus is on Valletta which this Christmas saw its share of consumers thronging the streets in search of Christmas shopping. There were still some gripes: the entrance to Valletta, now gloriously open, was still hemmed in by metal sheets which toppled over in the days of the big gale. Some other days were too rainy to encourage people to go out and wander.

A rather more serious complaint came, this time, from owners of outlets outside Valletta who complained that all the hype regarding New Year's Eve had filled indeed Valletta but emptied other outlets.

There could have been other reasons: in particular the hasty implementation and extension of the points system made people wary of using their car and maybe persuaded some to host parties in their homes rather than go out to venues.

(Even so some enterprising persons have been reported to have set up a Facebook page telling people where the next police roadblocks would be).

Now, with the beginning of the Valletta 18 celebrations, Valletta will be more and more at the centre of focus, not just our but also in a way worldwide.

The renewed Tritons fountain is a fitting complement to the new Valletta entrance, still however incomplete. So too the ditch work on which has been delayed.

There are too a number of restoration works going on inside Valletta which should have been curtailed unless we want visitors to traipse along dusty streets.

Valletta has also seen a number of important restoration projects which have added value to the city.

Valletta, however, is a special case: situated on a promontory, its access is necessarily restricted. It is also a rarity in that while all other capital cities keep increasing in population, its population keeps decreasing and when the shops close and the restaurants shut up, it becomes a ghost town.

There are still a number of buildings that lie derelict and which could be restored but these are normally sold to property speculators and/or foreigners. There are very few houses that can attract back people who have left the city and relocated elsewhere where there are, perhaps, less stairs, less dingy rooms and low ceilings.

Even after the end of the Valletta 18 events, Valletta will still be the capital to which every day thousands of persons flock, for work, for business, for leisure and pleasure.

The huge efforts of past years have finally given us a new and resplendent capital and all efforts must be made to make it even better. 
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