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Two more months of retail sales decline

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Retail sales fell in both September and October to continue their downward trend.

Motor vehicle sellers saw the biggest fall with an inflation-adjusted, year-over-year sales dip of 26.9 per cent in September and 21.4 per cent in October.

Others to see double-digit falls in both months were building materials stores (falls of 19.2 per cent and 14.3 per cent) and apparel stores (16.6 per cent and 14 per cent).

Overall, the Department of Statistics reported that sales volume fell 4.4 per cent in September and 3.6 per cent in October, which was the 18th month out of the past 20 to record a year-over-year sales decline.

The Retail Sales Index is normally released around the midpoint of each month. There has been a two-month gap since the release of the August 2019 report, which showed a 7.6 per cent plunge.

Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “The reason for the delay in these reports is because I wanted to drill down on the numbers.

“Additionally we should ensure some context behind the numbers. As an example, it should be noted that the decrease in retail sales reported in September 2019 when compared with September 2018 can be partly attributed to the shortened opening hours of retail establishments on September 18 and 19 due to the passing of Hurricane Humberto.

“Additionally, motor vehicle sales are significantly down due to myriad factors. Firstly, buyers are choosing to bypass dealerships and purchase directly from overseas markets (i.e. taxi operators).

“Secondly, there is an emerging second-hand car purchasing market that also circumvents the direct sales from distributors. Additionally, people are keeping their cars much longer.”

Mr Furbert said the Government had taken steps to assist struggling retailers, including lowering the payroll tax for employers from 10.24 per cent to 7 per cent, reducing duty on textiles and shoes and removing payroll tax obligations for start-up companies.

Mr Furbert added: “The Government will continue to dialogue with retail to find ways to assist them. But, residents can greatly assist our retailers by supporting their businesses and purchasing items and products right here in Bermuda.”

Red October: last year brought the worst October in at least six years for retailers on an inflation-adjusted basis (Source: Department of Statistics)

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Published February 17, 2020 at 7:00 am (Updated February 17, 2020 at 1:00 pm)

Two more months of retail sales decline

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