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Retailers cry: Things rough

BARRY ALLEYNE, [email protected]

Retailers cry: Things rough

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The controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) has fulfilled its aim of dampening the importation of pricey goods into Barbados, but it hasn’t brought a booster to local spending by Barbadians.

As a result, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is reporting a major decrease in retail sales in the first three and a half months of 2018.

And president of the BCCI, Eddy Abed, fears it could get worse heading into the rest of the year.

Head of the Barbados Private Sector Association, Charles Herbert, isn’t surprised Barbadians are staying away from business houses, and choosing to spend only on essentials.

“We have been told by our members that general retail sales are down by as much as 40 per cent, depending on if there is a large ticket item or normal items,” Abed said.

“Food sales are either flat or down, and the real worrisome problem is that investments are at zero. It has never been this quiet at every level of the investment cycle,” Abed added.

Private sector head Herbert said discretionary spending by consumers in the first three months of the year was no surprise.

“It will be varied across sectors, but where people can reduce purchases, I’m not surprised. People are hurting because of their low income, and there is a lot of uncertainty that is making people cautious.”

Abed said the country’s long-term business prospects weren’t looking good either.

Abed confirmed that last Christmas season was good because of head count, but the spend had not been very good in the first three months of 2018.

The Chamber boss admitted that part of the object of the NSRL was to dampen the demand for imported items, and that had worked. (BA)