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Overseas purchases soar as online buying jumps in October

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Overseas purchases imported by couriers soared in October to an apparent record $21 million. Above, the Cargojet aircraft used by local couriers is shown. (File photograph)

Overseas purchases jumped by almost a third in October last year as shoppers apparently went online to start their Christmas shopping.

Declarations of overseas purchases rose $7.9 million, or 31.6 per cent, to $32.9 million, the second-highest level of monthly sales on record, with the vast majority of sales coming through customs declarations from couriers.

The increase in dollar value of overseas purchases was higher than the increase in the value of sales in local shops recorded in the Retail Sales Index, which saw the value of sales rise $5.2 million to $98.1 million.

The dramatic increase in overseas purchases was contained in the October Retail Sales Index report, which said the value of local sales has increased 5.6 per cent — the biggest increase since May — but after taking the retail inflation rate into account, declined in real terms by 0.2 per cent.

The increase in overseas purchase declarations was led by increases in imports by courier, which rose $8.1 million to $21 million in what appeared to be the highest level on record.

Imports by sea rose $400,000 to $8.7 million but returning residents’ purchases declared at the airport dropped by $600,000 to $2.8 million. Purchases declared through the Post Office rose from $300,000 to $400,000 year over year, but were down $100,000 on September.

The local decline continued to be led by drops in sales volumes for food stores, which fell 9.1 per cent as grocery shoppers appeared to cut their purchases in response to soaring prices.

Liquor store sales volume also decreased by 4.7 per cent.

A government statement said: “Compared to the pre-pandemic sales volume in 2019, food stores registered a 13.5 per cent decrease, while sales for liquor stores were 1.4 per cent lower.”

Motor vehicle stores’ sales volume declined 5.3 per cent due to a decreased number of high-value vehicles sold compared with the previous year.

Motor sales are often dictated by the timing of new vehicle shipments and car dealers today reported challenges with imports.

Sales fall: supermarket sales volumes are falling, according to the latest Retail Sales Index (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The sales volumes for Building Material Stores decreased 1.8 per cent after rising 10.2 per cent in September but continue to be erratic.

The Royal Gazette reported today that concrete prices have jumped by up to 50 per cent, putting construction projects at risk.

Stores selling household items, furniture, appliances, electronics, pharmaceuticals and tourist-related goods reported a 3 per cent increase on 2021 and a 0.8 per cent rise on pre-pandemic sales volume for the same period of 2019.

Service stations’ sales volume increased 5.7 per cent from last year and was 7.3 per cent below the pre-pandemic sales in October 2019.

The statement added: “The sales volume at apparel stores rose 14 per cent due to increased inventory. However, the sales volume was 9.9 per cent below the pre-pandemic sales of 2019.”

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Published January 27, 2023 at 8:01 am (Updated January 28, 2023 at 8:19 am)

Overseas purchases soar as online buying jumps in October

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