The final weekend of the annual Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST) reductions resulted in a flurry of activity in St. John’s as shoppers sought out last minute bargains for Christmas.
Each year, the government reduces the rate of the ABST from fifteen to five percent in an effort to boost sales and economic activity.
Many shoppers take advantage of the tax cut period to do their holiday shopping. Director of the Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Martin Cave, reported that over the weekend ‘ there was much [activity]’ in the city.
“There are two basic reasons for this: first, you had a reduction of two-thirds of the rate of the ABST that in itself lures shoppers into two and secondly, because of social-distancing guidelines many people could be seen standing outside of many popular businesses waiting their turn to go inside,” he observed.
Cave said it is difficult to give precise figures concerning the percentage of annual sales that takes place over the holiday period, however, he believes that for non-tourism related businesses the holiday period represents about 20 percent of annual sales.
“There are two periods of increased sales – carnival and Christmas – so for many store owners this represents their final opportunity to make up for loss sales during a particularly difficult year,” he remarked.
Cave announced that the Chamber will be working with the Statistics Division to begin gathering this type of information from businesses as it is essential for planning at the national and business levels.