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Puerto Rico’s retail sales maintain brisk pace in August, up 11.5%

Puerto Rico’s retail sales reached $3 billion in August, representing a 11.5% year-over-year increase, which government officials attributed to the economic reopening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This represents the third increase reported in retail sales so far in 2020, said Department of Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy, citing the agency’s Economic Analysis division’s Retail Sales Report.

Meanwhile, the accumulated value of retail sales for the first eight months of 2020 shows a decrease of 8.3%, when compared to the same period of 2019.

“We know that we face an increase in positive cases due to COVID-19 and this could impact the next quarter’s sales. However, we’re also heading into the months of Christmas sales and we hope that this creates a balance,” Laboy said.

The main reasons for the shift in retail sales during August 2020 is due to significant increases reported in the following segments: furniture stores (67.4%); hardware stores and household materials (52.2%); sports, musical instruments and entertainment stores (46.3%); department stores and other miscellaneous items (19.4%); new and used motor vehicle sales dealerships (18.2%); electronic goods stores (17.9%); auto parts stores (14.7%); and shoe stores (10.3%).

Grocery stores and alcoholic beverage shops reported an increase of 1.5%. Meanwhile, pharmacies and drug stores reported a 2.9% reduction.

On the other hand, establishments that reported the greatest year-over-year drops in August 2020 were: specialty food stores (51.8%); yard and garden equipment stores (27.8%); and gas stations and convenience stores (19.1%).

Restaurants and alcoholic beverage venues, and clothing stores reported year-over-year drops in August 2020 of 7.9% and 5.3%, respectively.

When divided into the size of the establishment, small and medium businesses reported $959.2 million in sales, increasing their results by 1.5% year-over-year. However, the sales of small companies decreased by 0.4%, while the sales of medium-sized companies registered an increase of 3.5%. In August, small and medium business sales represented 32.0% of all retail sales for that month.

Sales by large, independent establishments increased 34.9%, while large chains grew 11.5%, according to the report.

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