• The following statement was released by Progressive Labour Party MP Michael Scott for release at 7am this morning
Michael Scott, PLP MP

As the OBA continues to strive for relevance we see their continued attempts to try and create an issue through which they may be able to divide Bermudians, we are equally concerned regarding the fall in retail sales.

This phenomenon is not unique to Bermuda as global trends show that the traditional brick and mortar retail entities of the past are dwindling in favour of alternate models such as online shopping.  In Bermuda, for years Bermudian consumers have complained about pricing, customer service levels and the range or variety of products or garments available on the island.  We all know there are malls on the east coast that have come to know Bermudians and their buying power exceptionally well.  With the advent of online shopping as a viable option, it is clear that this global trend will continue to factor into local retail sales

A factor that is further driving the decline of retail spending is the impact that greed in the form of annually increasing health insurance costs and increasing interests rates on mortgages are having on Bermudian buying power. For those reasons, the PLP has championed the introduction of a living wage, the creation of less expensive mortgage options and tackling the cost of health insurance.  All items that the OBA has opposed and all items that would put more money in Bermudians’ pockets and which would, by extension contribute to increased spending on our economy.

Economic Trends for 2018 Domestic Demand and Personal Consumption and the Retail  Sector were highlighted in the  2018 National Economic Report (NER) published  in February of  this  year. The  Report had this to say ;

“Employment income supports consumption and is estimated to have decreased by 0.6 percent for the  first three  quarters  of 2018 compared with the same  period   in  2017″  The Americas  Cup year we remember.

DCI Photo: Curitis Dickinson Minister of Finance

This   information was shared  with  the country  only  last  month  during  the Budget Statement,  and it  bears repeating in light of the intellectually bankrupt and cynical series of assertions assigning as the causes of the retail sectors lackluster performance by the OBA’s Mr Kempe.

The year over  year  level of  employment income  again  according to  the, 2018  National Economic  Report  of Bermuda declined  by 1.6 percent during the  first quarter and 1.4 percent during the second  quarter but increased by 1.4 in the third  quarter of  2018.

Today in 2019 we report that employment income remains up  and GDP for the 4th quarter is up, and  there  are more jobs in Bermuda  than  when  the PLP  took over, a modest gain, but it displays that the OBA’s narrative of “lack of confidence” simply defies belief and the numbers.

Furthermore the only answer the OBA has given to address the retail sector’s woes are for a return to the OBA/Michael Fahy approach of opening the immigration floodgates and pushing unemployed and underemployed Bermudians to the sidelines in our own country.

It is clear that we need more Bermudians working, more Bermudians making more money and more Bermudians spending in our economy. The PLP has offered solutions, including  diversifying the economy,  and  importantly putting more money in Bermudians pockets  following the  work  of  the living wage Commission and addressing the greed that is driving up mortgage rates, health insurance rates and the cost of essentials.  The OBA, the “great defenders” of the status quo and the elite and privileged have opposed every single initiative while continuing to push their agenda to open the immigration floodgates.

We further encourage the retail sector and wholesalers  to listen to what Bermudians are saying in reference to pricing,  and  mark ups, quality of customer service, better  inventory management   and  the   variety of products available.  While  the retail sector is facing a global trend that poses a threat to their current approach and existing  and  new  entrants   will  become    and  must  become  more  responsive, innovative and willing to adapt   the  way  that  some    businesses  are,  they  will  prosper and be well positioned to benefit when more Bermudians are employed, have more money in their pocket are benefitting from lower mortgages and enjoying lower healthcare costs