Retailers want BCCEC to lobby govt for level playing field
The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) could soon begin to lobby government for exemptions on apparel and shoes in order to help its members and retailers in general survive in a world of online shopping, BCCEC CEO Edison Sumner told Guardian Business yesterday.
Sumner said the Chamber’s members have requested that on behalf of their businesses, the BCCEC approached the government about the possibility of helping to level the playing field as they compete against the continued growth of online retailers, and the continued proliferation of freight forwarding companies that facilitate the online shopping craze in The Bahamas.
Sumner added that local tax-paying companies are also competing against black market businesses that set up shop without business licenses or sell from the backs of cars.
This paper also reported yesterday that the Bahamas Federation of Retailers (BFR) has placed some culpability on Bahamasair, which it says advertises the shopping experience in Florida and creates packages to attract passengers.
“Bahamasair, our national airline that uses millions of our tax dollars yearly, advertises ‘shop in Florida’ specials with discounted rates on the number of bags Bahamians can bring back,” the BFR said in a statement.
“When those purchases in those bags are apparel, fashion accessories, shoes or other small and easily portable gift items, much of what is brought in from these ‘shop in Florida’ trips are claimed as ‘personal effects’ at the border and understandably, it is almost impossible for customs to police. In addition to the airline, Bahamian-based banks regularly advertise loans and credit cards for ‘shopping abroad’.”
The BFR said this situation is tantamount to smuggling, but sympathized with Bahamas Customs agents who can almost never query the newness of apparel items being brought through the border on international flights.
The BFR insisted that the Bahamian economy loses an estimated $2 billion, or about 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) of business to online shopping and shopping in Florida.
The BFR has also called for the elimination of import duties for apparel, shoes and fashion accessories in The Bahamas to “improve the competitive ability” of local retailers.