Data compiled by Google show that across the EU, for the second year in a row, this December, recreation establishments, such as restaurants, and retail shops were the least impacted by the pandemic.
Google compile statistics every day comparing the movement towards recreation and retail establishments of those who use its products (in smart phones and other devices) to that observed in the months that preceded the pandemic.
These real-time data indicate that in December this year Maltese and Gozitans went to shops and leisure outlets 13% more than they had gone before the COVID outbreak started. Note that Google excludes pharmacies, supermarkets, and grocers from their definition of retail shops.
Movement towards these kinds of outlets is monitored separately and has shown a consistent upward trend for many months.
Beside Malta, only in Hungary, Portugal, Denmark, and Croatia was there more activity in December than in the months before the pandemic. In countries such as Germany, there was 14% less movement towards shops and recreation outlets, but the worst affected were establishments in Austria, where there was a 38% drop compared to 2019 levels.
Even in December 2020, Maltese firms were the least affected in the European Union, but that time activity was 14% below pre-pandemic levels.
Across the European Union, December last year was much worse than the current situation. For example, in Slovenia there was 60% less footfall than before the outbreak started, while this year the decline was only 6%.
The country where the situation in December 2021 was most like that in December 2020 was Slovakia.
A key factor behind the resilience of the Maltese economy and the strength of the recovery in private consumption is the generous aid given by the Maltese Government to households. As well as continuing to reduce taxes and increasing benefits, while providing record aid to businesses through the wage supplement and other subsidies, the Maltese Government’s energy policy has been very different from that adopted in the rest of Europe.
While on average across Europe households are facing an 18% increase in the price of electricity, with countries such as Spain having a 48% increase, in Malta the price has remained stable.
As for the price of fuel, in Malta this has remained stable while across the European Union there has been an increase of 28 cents per litre, or more than 20%.
As a result, the financial situation of families in Malta has continued to strengthen such that at the end of 2021 Maltese households have accumulated a record level of deposits with banks, exceeding 15 billion euros for the first time in history.
This is almost double the level of household deposits in March 2013.