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Puerto Rico’s retail sales drop 2.4% as COVID-19 pandemic rages in ’20

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Puerto Rico’s retail sales were apparently affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when activity decreased by 2.4%, when compared to the same 12-month period in 2019, according to data provided by the Department of Economic Development and Commerce.

However, general sales registered for the month of December 2020 increased to $3.05 billion, which represents an increase of 5.1% when compared to the same month in 2019.

The sectors that reported the biggest year-over-year drops in December 2020 were: Electronics equipment stores ($71.3 million to $46.8 million), shoe stores ($151.3 million to $113.1 million), clothing stores ($168.6 million to $136.8 million), gas stations and convenience stores ($187.1 million to $157.7 million), and restaurants and bars ($179 million to $154.2 million).

In comparison, the sectors that reported the biggest sales increase were in sports, musical instrument and entertainment stores ($15.9 million to $27.8 million). Since the start of the outbreak of the pandemic and the lockdown, sales at these stores increased by double-digits, the data shows.

Other sectors showing year-over-year growth were: hardware and home supplies ($67.2 million to $95.7 million), as well as furniture stores ($62 million to $85.1 million); yard and garden equipment stores ($6.1 million to $7.7 million), fuel distributors ($57.1 million to $67.5 million), new and used motor vehicle dealerships ($410.1 million to $480.1 million) and department stores and other miscellaneous items ($947.8 million to $1 billion); drugstores ($188.3 million to $208.0 million); and supermarkets and alcoholic beverage stores ($295.7 million to $323.5 million).

“Traditionally the months of November and December reflect some of the highest sales seasons of the year,” Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Cidre said. 

“During this past period of November and December 2020, sales represented 19.6% of all sales for the year 2020, with an increase of 4.8% in relation to the level of sales reported for that same period in 2019,” he said. “This reflects an increase in confidence by consumers to make their purchases. We trust that, as the economic reopening continues its course and the vaccination rate increases at a general level, commercial activity will intensify,” Cidre said.

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