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May retail sales jump, fuelled by clothes shopping

Just a day after releasing the April Retail Sales Index report, the Minister for the Cabinet Office yesterday reported May figures showing an overall volume increase of 10.4 per cent year-over-year.

That figure was arrived at after adjusting for the retail sales rate of inflation, measured at 1.6 per cent in May.

Wayne Furbert said May’s retail sales growth represents the 11th straight month of increase.

This growth was attributed mostly to increased spending on-island by residents in 2021 and less restricted sales activity compared to May 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In value terms, retail sales rose 12.3 per cent to an estimated $97.4 million.

May’s retail sales increase compares to the previous year’s local retail sales which reported a volume decrease of 14.9 per cent.

Mr Furbert said, “This consistent increase in activity is good news for Bermuda’s economy and many local businesses.”

Five of the seven retail sales sectors experienced positive growth in May, led by apparel stores whose sales increased by 141.8 per cent due to retailers being closed or offering kerbside pick-up only in May 2020 during the lockdown compared to operating with fewer restrictions on sales this year.

Volume sales for apparel stores remained below the May 2019 sales level.

Building material stores sales increased by 38.9 per cent in sales volume due to renovations and customer projects. The growth also signalled a return to a sales level which was higher than the pre-pandemic sales volume in May 2019.

Service stations experienced 21 per cent growth with more vehicles in transit on the road and increased boat traffic.

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 May, the sector registered a 21.6 per cent increase compared to a 25.7 per cent decrease in 2020.

May sales volume for motor vehicle stores rose by 18.6 per cent compared to a 31.5 per cent decrease in 2020 due mostly to a greater number of cars sold which offset decreasing motorcycle sales.

Sales volume in May for food stores decreased 2.5 per cent while sales volume for liquor stores decreased 13.3 per cent.

In May 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and government restrictions resulted in larger than average purchases of food and liquor.

Mr Furbert added: “Total selected overseas declarations increased 71.6 per cent in May 2021 compared to May 2020. The rise in overseas declarations was influenced by higher imports of furniture, clothing, and electrical machinery and equipment by sea.”

Imports via courier decreased $300,000 to $12.4 million.

Imports by households via sea rose $7.4 million to $8.7 million.

Declarations at the airport by returning residents rose to $2.7 million and imports via the Bermuda Post Office rose to $400,000 from $100,000.

Excluding Sundays, there were 25 shopping days, the same as in May 2020.

The public is encouraged to review the May 2021 Retail Sales Index report in full at https://www.gov.bm/retail-sales-index-rsi

Wayne Furbert, Minister for the Cabinet Office (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published August 28, 2021 at 8:05 am (Updated August 30, 2021 at 8:00 am)

May retail sales jump, fuelled by clothes shopping

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