Clarke: Retail sales show we need international business boost

Retail sales dropped by more than $2 million year on year, according to the latest Government statistics for July.

The figures showed a 2.2 percent decrease on sales, down from $99.1 million to $97 million.

Returning residents declared $4.5 million in overseas purchases — the same figure as July the previous year — which together with local sales amounted to $101.5 million in total consumer purchases for the month.

But — after adjusting for the inflation, which stood at 1.7 percent in July, the volume of retail sales decreased by 3.9 percent.

And all sectors of the retail trade logged a drop in sales — with the exception of clothes stores, which showed an increase of 1.8 percent.

Bermuda Chamber of Commerce retail division chief Paula Clarke, the CEO of Gibbons Company, said: “We’re seeing the continuing results of the slowdown in retail because there has been a reduction in the population and we must do everything we can to encourage international business to come back to Bermuda.”

Ms Clarke added that cash spent overseas did not help the Island’s struggling retail sector to keep its head above water.

She pointed out that the $4.5 million figure represented Customs declarations at the airport — not goods imported through internet shopping and shipping companies.

Ms Clarke said: “More than 4,000 people work in the retail sector and it’s a very important part of the infrastructure of Bermuda.”

She added: “Retailers continue to work to provide the best possible value and selection of goods to the Bermudian public and we want to encourage people to shop locally.”

The biggest losers were building supplies stores, which showed an 8.6 percent drop in sales.

The latest retail sales index report blamed a slowdown as large scale construction jobs like the new hospital wing ended.

Sales of motor vehicles were also hit in July — down 5.8 percent on the previous July.

The volume of motorcycles fell and — while the number of cars sold went up compared to July 2013 — a fall in the average price per vehicle hit the bottom line.

Gas station sales also dropped, down 2.7 percent year-over-year, which Government analysts said was due to lower gasoline sales.

Sales receipts for all other store types also fell, declining by 1.9 percent overall.

But marine sales rose by 37.4 percent compared to July 2013, although tourist-related stores were 7.2 percent down and furniture, appliances and electronics also slumped — down 46 percent.

Pharmaceutical sales fell too — down 2.2 percent compared to July last year, while food sales fell 1.7 percent and liquor sales dropped 0.6 percent.

Government statisticians said the increase in the retail sector was “attributed partly to various sales events prior to the Cup Match holiday.”

Ms Clarke backed the Cup Match bounce theory for the clothing store bright spot in the figures.

She said: “Cup Match is very big in Bermuda — it’s a special occasion and people do look for new clothing and outfits.”

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Published Sep 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm (Updated Sep 23, 2014 at 8:02 pm)

Clarke: Retail sales show we need international business boost

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