No glory

Businesses insist NSRL driving down sales

Three months after Government increased the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) from two per cent to ten per cent, Bridgetown businesses say there has since been a drastic decrease in sales, with car companies among the worst hit.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler revealed in Parliament on Tuesday that the NSRL had raked in $50 million in the three months since it was raised effective July 1, on target with his own expectations when he announced in the May 30 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals that the levy would rise.

Sinckler also said after the Barbados Revenue Authority counts the additional Value Added Tax earned on the NSRL the final intake would be even higher.

However, local businesses said unlike Government they – and  consumers – had no reason to celebrate.

“We at Abed’s have definitely seen a decline in sales primarily because the NSRL has added to the cost, and as a direct result prices have gone up,” Eddy Abed, the owner of the popular fabric store Abed’s told Barbados TODAY, adding that while the tax had become a worrying issue for businesses, the Freundel Stuart administration was likely to keep it for the foreseeable future.

President of the BCCI Eddie Abed

“We were told that this was supposed to be a temporary tax. My feeling is because it is bringing in this amount of money it may be part of the landscape for a time to come, and that really concerns me.”

Abed, who also heads the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stressed that the contentious levy had caused a strain on the private sector.

He repeated the business community’s previously stated position that while Government had promised it would not lay off any more public servants, the jobs of private sector workers were being placed in jeopardy by the NSRL.

“Although the minister, by adding the NSRL assured that public servants won’t be going home, he has shifted that responsibility to the private sector. We are seeing many of our members in the process of about to send home staff and closing branches and downsizing. This wasn’t intended, [but] we can’t employ people with a tax so burdensome.

“From the chamber’s point of view, many of our members have also informed us that they have seen a tremendous fall-off in business. Those selling cars have said that July, August and September were the worst months for them. Sales were down 50 per cent and this has made the cost of living much higher,” the businessman said,

With the department store Woolworth in the process of replenishing its stock, Managing Director Martin Bryan said prices had increased by at least ten per cent, resulting in less spend by consumers.

Managing Director of Woolworth Martin Bryan

“As we are currently down restocking and getting new shipments in, [and] everything has definitely gone up. Prices have increased roughly ten per cent across the board. Everything new that has been coming in is about ten per cent more than it was two months ago,” Bryan said.

“The customer spend has not been what we are accustomed to. There are a lot more discerning customers out there, so we are seeing less traffic in the store and less spend per person, which would indicate that they are certainly going about their shopping strategically.”

The NSRL was introduced last September at two per cent of the customs value of imported and locally produced goods, raising concern among businesses and consumers alike.

It caused even further consternation when Sinckler announced in the May 30 Budget that the levy would rise to ten per cent, as part of tax measures to shrink a $340 million deficit.

Back then private sector representatives predicted skyrocketing prices and even some closures.

Bryan is hoping the falling sales were not portents of things to come this Christmas.   

“Bajans like Christmas. Our buying in terms of what Bajans like at Christmas  – decorations and toys – we are going to look very carefully at our pricing. I think the ten per cent has hit everybody in their pockets and everybody is going to be fighting for that reduced spend. We anticipate and are hoping for a relatively good Christmas,” he said.

Around the corner at Cave Shepherd, Area Retail Manager Beverley Belgrave revealed that sales were at an all-time low in July, blaming the NSRL.

Area Retail Manager at Cave Shepherd Beverley Belgrave.

In fact, Belgrave said the Broad Street store had yet to reverse the decline, as the fall-off in shoppers and spend continued.

And like Bryan, she was keeping her fingers crossed that business would turn round come Christmas.   .

“I am hoping that the holiday season will be a better season for us since we love Christmas,” the Cave Shepherd executive said.

“The reality is that prices will be more than last year. We are hoping that people will still come out and shop,” Belgrave added.

18 Responses to No glory

  1. susan maynard October 6, 2017 at 5:46 am

    I WILL BUY WHAT I NEED AND FORGET ABOUT MY WANT,I WILL USE BACK MY THING I HAVE FROM 2 YEARS AGO THIS CHRISTMAS I HAVE 3 KIDS ONE IN COLLAGE ANS THE OTHER ONE IN U.WI SO I CAN NOT SPENT THAT MONEY ON THING IN STORE. I HAVE TO BUY FOOD , THING GET TO HARD IN THIS COUNTRY.

    Reply
    • Jennifer October 6, 2017 at 7:16 am

      You eddy and company are bare price gougers first and foremost and secondly that Xmas fu54er* needs to be stopped by this people, before it is too late for you people. Stop and get edicated and stop celebrating your OPPRESSORS HOLIDAYS they gave you in slavery. It is their yearly financial bonus and cash in from you people. Too much free information out there on the net to be still so stupid. Jeremiah 10 1-5. That will achieve no brownie points from the almighty only fyah.

      Reply
  2. Susan Maynard
    Susan Maynard October 6, 2017 at 6:16 am

    Well it will be glory for me Because i wil use what i have 2 years ago for christmas this year because i keep my thing very good .

    Reply
  3. Carson C Cadogan October 6, 2017 at 7:04 am

    “” Those selling cars have said that July, August and September were the worst months for them. Sales were down 50 per cent””,

    this is rather good news, Barbados is already swamped with vehicles clogging our narrow roadways. And the car companies keep importing more and more vehicles as though they are going out of style. The thing is these vehicle imports do not bring in any form of foreign exchange but use up lots of foreign exchange.

    Martin Bryan is saying that prices have gone up ten percent. But I beg to differ. I have see prices gone up on items as much as 23%, you cant blame NSRL for that.

    Reply
    • Jennifer October 6, 2017 at 7:31 am

      CCC – well said – about the 23% too. The six roads and company lot. garnishing in progress.

      Reply
  4. Carson C Cadogan October 6, 2017 at 7:22 am

    This NSRL is really good for Barbados.

    Just look at it the right way.

    Reply
    • roger headley October 6, 2017 at 9:01 am

      With the transport system as bad as it is what are persons to do if they do not have personal transportation. People waiting as long as 3 hours for buses, how does that help productivity

      Reply
      • roger headley October 6, 2017 at 9:02 am

        You can say that because your bread butter – I hope it remains that way. Life has a way of dealing some pretty hard blows

        Reply
    • Jennifer October 6, 2017 at 10:07 am

      CCC – I hope that this NRSL is going to be used for the purpose it is intended. Cause we got some squanderers in that big house who is hell bent on keeping this people entrenched in poverty.

      Reply
  5. Greengiant October 6, 2017 at 7:27 am

    We as a people should have been shopping for essentials long time ago. The private sector retailers will simply have to become competitive. This they should have been doing for decades, instead they’ve been taking the consumer for a ride, hoarding profits, and refusing to treat their employees to better pay. Why should the public workers have to constantly carry the economic burden on their backs? Had the government laid off more on your recommendation all would be well with you, because the workers would be getting their unemployment money and still spending with you.

    This is what consumer advocates has been asking for over decades, so let’s see which retailer steps up. Government is not stupid, they see the import cost, they understand the energy cost, they too understand the high mark ups applied at the retail end. It’s time the private sector stops complaining and start working.
    I can recall full well, the owners of mega stores, the wholesale stores saying the increased floor space would allow them to shop more cost effectively, and the savings would be passed onto the consumer. Have any of you seen this? I haven’t. The N S R L will help the country, unless the private sector can provide a better option they should just do the numbers, and get on with it. Shortening work hours, or sending home staff is always their only alternatives it appears.

    They have been in business for as long as I can remember, the Abeds, Cave Shepherds, and some others. How many have invested in alternative energy to reduce their operational expenses? All they ever do is complain whenever the playing conditions change.

    Well as a player of sports, the playing conditions change from time to time, the teams who adapt, are well lead, study the opponents and execute their plans on the field usually wins the game. The same applies in business.

    Reply
    • Jennifer October 6, 2017 at 7:35 am

      Well fu678ng said green giant. Then dangling this (guinea pig) people on the fishing pole over the deep.

      Reply
  6. Philippa Joseph
    Philippa Joseph October 6, 2017 at 7:29 am

    You should have supported the match against it . Shut up

    Reply
  7. Donild Trimp October 6, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I applaud the Gov’t for introducing the NSRL. It think it is one of the success stories for Barbados.

    Whether intentional or by co-incidence, the NRRL is having the correct effect on the over crowding of cars on the roads of Barbados.

    For years businesses were gouging the Barbadian public with overpriced goods while refusing to pay into the treasury the millions and millions of dollars they are required by law to pay.

    The NSRL is good for Barbados and it should not be a temporary tax, it should be a permanent tax.

    Eddie Abed and Martin Bryan should stop complaining and start doing the right thing as good citizens of Barbados. PAY THE TAXES.

    Beverley Belgrave is just a mouthpiece.

    Reply
  8. Carson C Cadogan October 6, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Greedy WHITE and INDIAN merchants.

    Reply
    • Jennifer October 6, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Combined with the majority as the spenders is like a perfect storm.

      Reply
  9. Sue Donym October 6, 2017 at 9:55 am

    The burden of NSRL should cause businesses to examine the way they market and price their offerings – their survival depends on it. It appears that for many years pricing was on the ‘most that the market will bear’ model. This monstrous level of NSRL will force them to more often use loss leaders and deep discounts to get buyers in the door. They’ll have to rethink advertising policies and taking smaller margins as well as being more creative at moving slow selling items. Consumers are more likely to buy more or other items if they think they’ve scored a bargain.

    Observation tells me that overtime and holiday hours coupled with the recent imposts will undo several businesses. The labour ministry will have to get serious about making it easier for businesses to move toward an expanded hours format or to the 24 hour opening without making the wage rate punitive.

    Now Mr Abed can see why it was important to support the employers and employees who had a bit more foresight. Maybe the headline should: “No guts, no glory”.

    Reply
  10. Saga Boy October 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Same old same old same old. Come xmas eve they will be saying the shoppers came in their numbers.

    Reply

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