Retail sales apparently got off on the right foot this year, reflecting a 4.2 percent year-over-year increase in January, according to the latest statistics Puerto Rico Trade released Tuesday.
The sector generated more than $2.8 billion in economic activity during the first month of the year, in comparison to the more than $2.7 billion on record for January 2010.
Judging from the statistics, the island’s female population apparently flocked to their favorite clothing stores in January, spending more than $21.5 million. However, the 24.3 percent year-over-year growth may also be attributed to higher off-the-rack prices on clothing due to a spike in the worldwide cost of cotton.
On the flip side, men and youth clothing stores saw a 19.4 percent drop in sales in January 2011, reporting $7.1 million in activity, versus the $8.9 million reported the same month a year ago.
Unsurprisingly, gasoline stations also saw a 16.3 percent increase in business, which nearly reached $290 million at the start of the year, versus the $249.2 million reported for January 2010. Oil prices stood at about $84 a barrel in January, and have continued rising pretty steadily since.
Other sectors that saw drops in business are meats and seafood shops, and general merchandise stores, with decreases of 2.3 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.
When broken down by region, the biggest winners were establishments in the Fajardo and Ponce areas. While Fajardo’s retail activity increased by 13.8 percent year-over-year to $70.1 million in January 2011, Ponce-area establishments reported more than $874 million in activity — a 4.9 percent growth in business.
In general, the island’s small retailers — those with quarterly payrolls of less than $20,000 — were the big winners in January 2010, with $785.1 million in economic activity. That represents a 10.8 percent year-over-year growth.