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Shoppers undeterred by rate change

Just 13 percent of residents told pollsters they’d be put off buying overseas by the new 25 percent Customs duty rate.

The vast majority said they would either carry on as before or be more likely to shop overseas in spite of the new rate Premier Paula Cox hopes will encourage people to buy local.

Finance Minister Ms Cox announced in her Budget in February that the duty rate would be “harmonised at all ports of entry” to 25 percent, meaning a leap in the rate payable on some items imported from abroad via courier or shipping, such as clothing, shoes, cameras and vitamins, from April 1.

The rate for clothing is currently 6.5 percent, shoes are ten percent, cameras are 8.5 percent and vitamins are 15 percent.

Televisions, radios and car parts are currently charged at 33.5 percent.

In November, the duty rate for people bringing in items at the airport rose temporarily to 35 percent and the duty-free allowance was set at $100 per household.

Ms Cox announced in her Budget that the airport rate would return to 25 percent and the duty-free allowance would increase to $200 per person from April 1.

A poll by Mindmaps this month for

The Royal Gazette asked residents: “Customs duty on all personal imports was changed to 25 percent in the recent Budget. Are you more likely, less likely or equally as likely to buy overseas in light of this change?”

Sixty percent of people said they were equally likely, 20 percent said they were more likely and 13 percent less likely.

Leslie Steede, from Mindmaps, said respondents appeared to have interpreted the question in terms of the Customs duty that they pay at airport arrivals.

“Prior to the 2012 budget, the duty on airport arrivals was 35 percent [and] the duty on goods imported to Bermuda via courier or shipping varied depending on the item,” he said.

“After the budget, the duty on airport arrivals is now 25 percent [and] the duty on goods imported to Bermuda via courier or shipping is now 25 percent across the board.

“The majority of the general population will see this as a positive change because they are more likely to shop abroad when they travel versus order and courier overseas purchases. Retailers, however, will not see this as positive.”

While debating the new harmonised rate earlier this month, Ms Cox told the House it was part of a “basket of emergency rescue measures to assist business struggling with the negative impact of the recession”.

The Chamber of Commerce has backed the move, though courier companies argued it would make life more difficult for some Bermudians, especially the construction industry, as homeowners would be charged more on items such as building supplies.

The poll of 400 people was carried out between March 6 and March 15 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Premier Paula Cox did not respond to a request for comment at the weekend.

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Published March 26, 2012 at 10:00 am (Updated March 26, 2012 at 9:59 am)

Shoppers undeterred by rate change

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