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Chamber: Online shopping impacting local merchants

Courier businesses experienced a spike in sales this holiday season, as many individuals rushed to catch sales and last-minute deals while shopping online, according to CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) Edison Sumner.

However, although businesses in the courier services sector would have benefited from an increase in revenue, local retailers were adversely affected.

“It would have had a bit of a negative impact on the retailers in the country, because a lot of people would have taken their shopping aboard and brought the product into the country for whatever reason,” said Sumner at a press conference yesterday.

Sumner expressed the chamber’s concerns over the increasing proliferation of online shopping and its impact on the local business community.

He explained that feedback from merchants in the downtown and southwest areas revealed concerns about having to compete with online shopping outlets and department stores that offer online services.

In addition, online shopping generates growth in the informal sector by allowing individuals to purchase goods online and sell them at a cheaper price when compared to local retail stores.

Sumner said while the chamber always seeks to encourage entrepreneurship, there is a concern about individuals who are selling products out of their “back trunks or their homes” and are not paying business license fees, utilities and National Insurance Board (NIB) contributions.

This in turn creates a scenario where some merchants are placed at a “grave disadvantage” by having to compete in the same space as those operating in the informal sector.

Compliant merchants are at a disadvantage by having to compete with online merchants along with merchants who are not properly regulated but are in the same competitive space, according to Sumner.

 

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