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Retailers Urge Better Duty-Free Promotion

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter 

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMIAN retailers are hoping to see a pick-up in Christmas holiday sales heading into the weekend, with one executive telling Tribune Business that “word isn’t getting out fast enough” on the clothing and shoe price cuts stemming from the Government’s duty waiver.

Tara Morley, a Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) director, and co-chair of the Bahamas Federation of Retailers (BFR), told Tribune Business the duty waiver had been “extremely positive” for local retailers.

The Ministry of Finance said in a statement last month that it had granted waivers to 154 applicants since the initiative was brought into effect in July, eliminating the 20 percent duty rate on imported clothing and shoes brought in by retailers.

Ms Morley told Tribune Business: “I think that the initiative by the Government has been extremely positive for local retailers with the reduction in import duties on clothing and shoes.

“In speaking to our membership, everyone basically saw a positive boost in their sales through the back-to-school sales and even throughout the month of November after that September-October buying session.

“A lot of people were reporting an uptick in sales, which was mainly due to the excitement and enthusiasm of Bahamians being able to shop at more reasonable prices at home now. You no longer need to run to Amazon to find the best price on goods; you can just buy locally and not have to pay for shipping, import duty and the VAT upon entry,”

she continued.

“We now have customers actually questioning whether the price is correct and whether it includes the VAT. We say yes, that’s our updated pricing now that there has been a duty reduction. Often we have customers surprised to hear that.”

Still, Ms Morley said consumers need to be made more aware of the competitive pricing now being offered by local retailers.

“I feel as though what has been a bit lacking is awareness in the general population with regards to letting them know that there are price reductions, and encourage people to shop locally,” she added.

“I think if anything I would have hoped to have seen a bit more support from the Government in terms of advertising; maybe a shop local campaign for the holidays given that they just did this incredible initiative to try and benefit local retailers. I think retailers are doing as much as they can to try and advertise, but the word isn’t getting out fast enough.”

Ms Morley’s concerns were echoed by Sarah Hug, proprietor of Sarah’s Secrets, who told Tribune Business: “We’re grateful to have the duty free in the clothing; that’s helped.

“But we have a whole mindset of shopping away. There’s been nothing really to push the fact it’s better to shop at home now everything’s duty-free.”

Ms Morley, meanwhile, said retailers are hoping to see a pick up in business heading into the weekend. “A lot of retailers are hoping to see that last minute push in sales, starting today probably straight through to Christmas Eve,” she added.

“We’re hoping to see an uptick in Christmas sales especially as we get closer to Christmas.”

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