Monday, 24 December 2012 02:30
By Nicole Shirley
Antigua St. John's - The Ministry of Finance’s move to extend the reduction of the sales tax for a second weekend was met with applause.
The general consensus among the major businesses in Antigua is that the lowering of the Antigua & Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) for the second consecutive weekend has improved sales.
Stephen Barnes of Harney Motors said that company recorded double in inquiries as well as in sales of car parts.
Hubert Salmon of Automotive Art noted a similar trend.
“The extension has been good for us, but given the short notice it was much better last weekend.” He also said this time of year was ideal for the lowering of the sales tax.
The larger supermarkets also saw a significant increase in sales.
A representative of First Choice said that outlet was extremely busy, but was also very careful in her assessment, adding that perhaps a greater impact would have been made if the lowering of the taxes came in the middle of the year.
Bargain Centre Supermarket saw significant increase in their ‘traffic’ while Epicurean’s view was slightly different.
The customer service representative at the Woods Branch said they are accustomed to seeing huge numbers of shoppers during the Christmas season, and credited the amount of sales made by that supermarket over the weekend to the time of year rather than the lowering of the sales tax.
Today, Christmas Eve, is the final of four consecutive days on which the ABST was reduced from its normal 15 percent to 10 percent on the purchase of all retail goods throughout the state.
It followed a highly successful previous weekend of December 15th and 16th in which the same tax rollback had brought about unexpectedly good results for businesses including some whose sales had been struggling, such as car dealers.
Shoppers came out in droves on the two days, and some businesses reported more sales in that unaccustomed two-day weekend period than their volumes all week (Mon-Fri).
There had been fears that the greater sales generated would likely be offset by the higher rates of pay that employers must dish out to their workers for services on weekends and holidays - and the technical difficulties that would be posed by merchants having to adjust their computers and cash registers to reflect the two-thirds reduction.
However, in the main, it appears that those fears did not materialize and the success of the experiment persuaded Government and business owners that it was worth repeating over twice the initial number of days, and leading right to the cusp of Christmas.
Caribarena will keep monitoring the progress of this second ABST-reduced weekend and keep our readers posted as to the final verdict.
One of the fears expressed was that shoppers, unaware that the tax rollback would be repeated and repeated so soon may have already spent themselves out of the reckoning since the first tax reduction weekend. As a result, some have opined, people may not have reserved the sort of pre-Christmas spending power that would enable them to make a major impact of last lap shopping.