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Puerto Rico’s retail sales up 14.8% Y-O-Y in July, -11.4% in 1st 6 months of ’20

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Puerto Rico’s retail sales increased by 14.8% in July, compared to the same month of the previous year, according to the Retail Sales Report issued by the Department of Economic Development and Commerce’s Office of Economic Analysis.

Retail sales reached $2.8 billion in July, four months into the restrictions on the economy put in place to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy said it was the second increase in sales at an annual rate so far in 2020.

“Both increases were consecutive. Faced with the challenges we face, many businesses have reinvented the way they operate and have ventured into other business models, including online sales,” he said.

However, the accrued value of retail sales for the first seven months of 2020 (January-July), showed a decrease of 11.4%, compared to the same period in 2019.

“This was due to the adjustments in operations that had to be carried out in the first half of the year as a measure to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus on the island,” Laboy said.

To assist the retail sector, the Department of Economic Development and Commerce has developed, together with the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, the “Reinforcing Pyme” workshops, aimed at offering business continuity tools in the midst of the situation posed by the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re confident that in the coming months the stabilization of the economy will continue under the necessary controls to address the health of consumers and entrepreneurs,” Laboy Rivera said.

The Economic Analysis Office’s Market Research and Economics Division confirmed that retail activity increases were registered in: Furniture stores (87.1%); Sports, musical instruments and entertainment stores (66.0%); Hardware stores and household materials (42.3%); Jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores (40.8%); new and used motor vehicle sales establishments (40.0%); Electronics stores (39.7%); Yard and garden equipment (35.6%); and fuel distributors (33.8%).

Meanwhile, auto parts stores, pharmacies and drugstores, and supermarkets and alcoholic beverage stores, reported increases of 31.5%, 17.5%, and 16.7%, respectively.

However, the Retail Sales report showed that specialty food stores, restaurants and establishments selling alcoholic beverages, as well as clothing stores, reported a reduction of 28.0%, 7.9%, and 3.0%, respectively, in their annual rate when comparing July 2020 with the same month of the previous year.

During the month of July, small and medium-sized companies grew at an annual rate of 16.5%, reaching $749.5 million in activity, “so the impact on this sector continues to be significant,” Laboy said.

Sales by small businesses increased by 29.4%, while sales by medium companies registered an increase of 12.6%. In July, sales by small and medium business represented 26.5% of all retail sales for that month, the government agency noted.

On the other hand, the report confirmed that sales by large non-chain stores decreased by 3.8%, while large chain store sales jumped by 21%.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 27 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.
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