Without Power Restored, P.R. Retail Sector Could Lose $8.9B in 6 Months
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rican Retail Trade Association (ACDET by its Spanish initials), a group founded in 2010 that represents 150,000 workers in the retail sector, warned that unless power service is restored soon there will a serious loss of jobs and massive closure of retail stores.
According to an analysis performed by economist Dr. Antonio Rosado, the sector will lose $8.9 billion in a period of six months without electricity and, in the best-case scenario, if the service is restored in three months, losses could reach $3 billion.
“Since day one following the passing of Hurricane Maria, we have worked as a team, the private sector and the government, to achieve emergency management, stabilization and subsequent economic recovery as soon as possible. However, it is unsustainable for the retail sector to operate indefinitely with electric generators and fuel,” said Lymaris Otero, executive director of ACDET.
“We are aware of the emergency that the country is experiencing. It is necessary to ensure the supply of food and drinking water to citizens. Once this goal is achieved, reactivating the country’s economy must be one of the undisputed priorities and, from there, reinvention,” Otero said in a statement.
According to the Census, retail sales total $24.9 billion a year. Chain stores provide the economy 150,000 jobs, which are at risk because the retail sector cannot operate unless power is restored.
“The impact of the hurricane is reflected in lost sales per month, by the months of inactivity as measured by the Maria index, which may be 52 percent of annual sales. We know that several of the most important companies are already operating and that both supermarket chains and pharmacies, as well as department stores have been careful to operate, some with limited schedules, but with long lines and limitations of energy, telecommunications and security.
Normalizing commerce’s economic activity less than two months before Christmas is a priority to maintain jobs, to recover the receipts on sales & use taxes (known as IVU by its Spanish acronym) and to bring sales back to their normal level. A loss of more than $8 billion is as catastrophic a blow as Hurricane Maria itself with its more than 150 mile per hour winds,” noted Rosado, ACDET economic adviser.
“Our call to the government and the Electric Power Authority is to work tirelessly and allocate all necessary resources so power does not become a Christmas wish without complying—energizing the shopping centers and areas close to retail stores because they are vital to activate the economy, ” Otero said.