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Retail sales drop during March

Retail sales dropped one percent in March as fewer cars were sold and people spent less on everything from clothing to furniture.

Spending in tourist-related stores also plummeted while sales of food, liquor and gas rose during the month.

Consumers spent a total of $84.8 million on retail goods, representing a decrease of $800,000 year-over-year, a Department of Statistics statement said yesterday.

Motor vehicle dealers reported the largest decline in sales, 18 percent.

In contrast, sales from food stores registered the largest gain, increasing seven percent.

Residents returning to the Island declared overseas purchases valued at $3.7 million during March 2013. This was 2.8 percent more than the $3.6 million declared in March 2012. Combined local and overseas spending totalled $88.5 million.

After adjusting for the annual retail sales rate of inflation, measured at 1.8 percent in March 2013, the volume of retail sales fell by 4.7 percent.

There were 25 shopping days during the month, two less than in March 2012.

Retail sales also fell in February, by 1.8 percent, after rising three percent in January.

While food sales rose seven percent compared to March 2012, sales revenue for liquor stores increased 4.7 percent positively affected by the Easter holiday being celebrated in March this year versus April in 2012.

Sales receipts for service stations increased 1.8 percent year-over-year. This marginal gain was mostly due to consumers purchasing a higher volume of gasoline during the month, as the price of fuel dropped 0.3 percent during the period.

The 18 percent decrease in sales recorded by motor vehicle retailers marked the second consecutive month of decline following the positive sales growth experienced during the four months prior. There were 13 fewer cars and eight more motorcycles sold in March 2013 compared to March 2012.

Retailers of building materials registered a decline in gross receipts of 9.8 percent during March 2013. This reduction was driven by the decreased demand for building supplies for home improvements and major commercial construction projects.

Sales within the all-other-store-types sector dipped 7.3 percent. Sales receipts from boat and marine supplies stores plummeted 36.5 percent. Similarly, gross receipts for tourist-related stores abated 14.9 percent, while sales of furniture, appliances and electronics declined 10.5 percent. In contrast, sales of pharmaceutical products registered a fractional increase of 0.3 percent.

Sales revenue for apparel stores fell 5.4 percent during the month. Retailers attributed this decline to two less shopping days during the month.

Residents declared $3.7 million or 2.8 percent more in overseas purchases than in March 2012. Increased outlays on clothing and footwear contributed to the rise in the total value of declarations in March 2013. However, this outcome may have been partly due to the new HM Customs Green/Red channel system for declaring goods at the airport introduced in November 2012.

A comparison of motor vehicle sales during the month of March from 2008 to 2013.

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Published May 11, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 10, 2013 at 11:49 pm)

Retail sales drop during March

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