Retail sales rise to snap losing streak
Bermuda's 13-month run of declining year-on-year retail sales has been halted.
Figures released today revealed that the overall volume of retail sales increased by 0.5 per cent in April after being adjusted for inflation, which was 1.6 per cent during the month.
Three of the seven retail sectors recorded increases in sales volume, with liquor store sales up 7 per cent, food store sales up 3.7 per cent and all other store types sales up 5.3 per cent.
Four sectors recorded a decline in sales volume, with motor vehicle stores sales dropping by a whopping 17.1 per cent, building material stores sales declining 7.6 per cent, apparel stores sales dropping 3.8 per cent, and the volume of sales at service stations dipping 1.2 per cent.
Overall, the value of retail sales for all sectors in April was $92 million, up 2.2 per cent year-on-year.
Excluding Sundays, there were 25 full shopping days in the month, the same as in April 2018.
In value terms, the sales of liquor stores rose 10.7 per cent while the sales value for food stores increased 6.4 per cent. Retailers attributed the rise in sales to the later timing of the Easter holiday in 2019 when compared to last year.
The value of sales for the all other stores sector increased by 5.2 per cent. The value of sales for pharmacies increased 6.9 per cent while gross receipts of miscellaneous goods rose 6.7 per cent. The sales value of furniture, appliances and electronics was 4.3 per cent higher, while the sales value for marine and boat suppliers declined 4.4 per cent.
In value terms, sales for service stations increased 0.5 per cent, which reflected the 1.8 per cent increase in the price of fuel during April. Sales revenue for apparel stores fell 1.3 per cent when compared with April 2018, while sales revenue for building material stores decreased 5.9 per cent, and sales receipts in the motor vehicle stores category fell 17.7 per cent.
Selected overseas declarations showed that imports via the post office increased $100,000 to $500,000 during April. Imports via courier declined by $700,000 to $11.9 million, while imports by households via sea declined by $600,000 to $1 million. Declarations by returning residents via the airport remained unchanged at $5.2 million.
Wayne Furbert, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “We are encouraged by the 0.5 per cent increase in the April retail sales numbers, but we recognise that we shouldn't be overly exuberant. We hope that retail sales will continue to increase when compared with previous years.
“However, we should be mindful that there are varying contributing factors to retail statistics. The numbers are affected by such things as the changes in people's buying habits, people purchasing more online, buying second-hand items as opposed to new products, the decreasing purchasing power of an ageing population, mortgage rate increase and yes, sometimes government policies can have an effect.”
He added: “This Government has recognised the challenges in the retail sector and has sought to implement solutions to alleviate the hardships, such as reducing the customs duty rate on textiles, which include linen and blankets and shoes. Additionally, we reduced payroll tax for retail stores.
“Ultimately, we can all play a role in aiding our retail sector, simply by utilising our buying power here at home. By doing that we are not only supporting our retail sector, but we are supporting all of the Bermudians who work in this industry.”
The 13 consecutive months of declining retail sales represented the longest continuous spell of month-on-month retail sales declines since a near four-year-long period from May 2008 until February 2012.
The Retail Sales Index figures were released by the Department of Statistics.