Retail sales up 3.5% in March
Retail sales jumped 3.5 per cent in March, helped by a 24.3 per cent rise in the volume of food sales as many people stocked up ahead of restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supermarkets, petrol stations and pharmacies were among the “essential businesses” allowed to stay open after the Bermuda Government ordered retail stores, bars, and cinemas to close on March 23 as the coronavirus threat intensified.
After adjusting for the retail sales rate of inflation of 0.7 per cent in March, the overall volume of sales was up 3.5 per cent compared to March 2019.
It was the second consecutive monthly increase for retail sales. The value of sales was $96.5 million, an improvement of 4.3 per cent year-on-year. Liquor stores saw a sales boost, up 14.3 per cent in volume. Food and liquor retailers attributed their increase in sales to high consumer demand due to Covid-19.
There was a 15.3 per cent rise in the volume of sales at building materials stores, owing partly to a higher demand for commercial construction supplies.
Service stations operators reported lower demand for fuel as many customers were working from home.
The volume of sales was down 11.7 per cent.
Clothing stores suffered a 62.6 per cent drop in sales volume, attributed to their mandatory closure, a pandemic precaution.
There were fewer motor vehicles sold — dealers reported a 36.7 per cent drop in sales.
The “all other stores” sector saw a 5.4 per cent decrease in sales, although pharmacies had a 15.8 per cent increase in the value of sales.
In the selected overseas declarations sector, there was a $1.7 million increase in imports through couriers, to $13.5 million, which analysts said was because of higher imports of medical and pharmaceutical supplies.
Imports by households by sea increased by $900,000 to $1.4 million.
But residents returning through the airport declared fewer purchases, which led to a $1.8 million fall to $1.9 million.
Imports through the post office declined $300,000 to $200,000.
The Retail Sales Index data was compiled by the Department of Statistics.
• To read the Retail Sales Index bulletin, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”