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Retail sales up 14.2% in December

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Good news: Wayne Furbert, Minister for the Cabinet Office, delivered the latest retail sales figures as well as an overview of the retail sales sector in 2020 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Staying positive: the month-by-month changes in Bermuda’s retail sales during last year, in terms of sales volume (Graph by Bill Zuill)

Retail sales volume increased by 14.2 per cent in December year-over-year, marking the sixth consecutive month of rising sales for a sector hard-hit in the first half of 2020 by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The figure has been adjusted for the retail sales rate of inflation, which was 1 per cent in December.

The growth was attributed mostly to increased spending on-island by residents.

In value terms, retail sales rose 15.3 per cent to an estimated $120.4 million.

Wayne Furbert, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said of the six consecutive months of year-over-year retail sales growth: “This consistent increase in activity is good news for Bermuda’s economy and many local businesses.”

He added: “This bodes very well for our economy. Dollars were being spent right here at home due to the fact that residents were not travelling and they were importing goods in record numbers.

“Residents were taking staycations in our hotels and Airbnbs. They were spending money on building materials to conduct home renovations, and spending their dollars on big ticket items such as new cars, motorbikes and furniture.

“Additionally, the streamlined processes implemented by the Government regarding planning applications continued to encourage many building projects to start early, which has helped local businesses and the economy overall.”

Five of the seven retail sales sectors experienced positive growth in December. This was led by liquor stores, which experienced the largest sales volume increase of 29 per cent.

Sales volume for food stores increased by 16.6 per cent, year-over-year.

In value terms, sales for liquor stores rose 32.5 per cent while food stores rose 19.5 per cent.

The higher sales values were due to residents making increased purchases for home dining because of reduced business hours of restaurants and bars, and fewer residents travelling because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sales for the building material stores sector increased 23.1 per cent in both volume and value terms. The growth in sales was associated with large customer projects.

The all other store types sector comprises a variety of stores selling household items, furniture, appliances, electronics, pharmaceuticals, marine supplies and tourist-related goods.

In December, the sector showed an 18.5 per cent increase compared to a 2.1 per cent decrease in 2019. In value terms, sales for this sector increased 21.1 per cent.

The total selected overseas declarations surged 22.6 per cent in December compared to the same month in 2019.

Imports by courier increased by $5.2 million, year-over-year, to $19 million due to more imports of clothing and pharmaceutical products.

Imports by households via sea rose $6.4 million to $8.5 million as a result of higher imports of clothing, machinery, appliances, electrical equipment, and furniture.

Decreased travelling during December resulted in declarations by returning residents falling $6 million to $1.7 million.

Imports via the Bermuda Post Office fell by $100,000 to $600,000.

The motor vehicle stores sales volume rose by 14 per cent in December. In value terms, sales increased 14.2 per cent due mostly to a greater number of cars sold year-over-year.

There were declines in the service stations and apparel sectors.

The service stations sector experienced a 4 per cent decrease in the volume of sales year-over-year.

The value of sales declined 8.9 per cent, partly influenced by a 4.9 per cent decrease in the price of fuel.

Restricted business hours due to Covid-19 related curfews and residents working from home also impacted sales negatively.

Sales volume for apparel stores decreased by 6.3 per cent in December year-over-year, which reflects the lowest decrease month-to-month in the last 14 months. In value terms, sales for apparel stores fell 5.5 per cent.

Excluding Sundays, there were 24 shopping days which was the same as December 2019.

Mr Furbert said: “We recognise that the challenges of the pandemic have severely tested us as a country. But I believe that we have a resilient economy.

“We are seeing some encouraging activity with residents supporting our key industries and spending locally.

“I would like to encourage everyone to buy as much locally as possible, as it helps to keep our people employed, it helps to create more jobs, and it helps to stimulate the economy.

“Thanks to the residents of Bermuda for playing a key role in revitalising our retail sales.”

Trending upwards: Year-over-year per cent change of local retail sales index by value (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 19, 2021 at 10:40 am (Updated March 19, 2021 at 10:40 am)

Retail sales up 14.2% in December

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