Business owners scramble to take advantage of VAT-free shopping day in Barbados

Even though many business owners are pleased with the proposed VAT-free shopping day on Monday, the surprise move by the present administration has left many scrambling to implement necessary logistical changes in order to fully take advantage of the expected rise in shopping activity

This was the general view expressed by business owners, when a team from Barbados TODAY visited The City on Sunday.

When asked about the VAT-free day announcement, former president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Eddy Abed praised the move as a good one to stimulate shopping, but added that it unfortunately came as a surprise to all in the business sector.

“Truthfully the private sector was not consulted, and the Government only gave us 36 hours to prepare for it. Many of us have issues with our IT to try to get it right to be in a position to serve our customers come Monday morning,” Abed said.

“We will do what we have to do to get there – I can tell you that we at Abeds are ensuring that our stores are well stocked, and we will present everything that we [carry] with the VAT being exempt tomorrow.”

Abed said the Christmas shopping has been brisk.

“It started late. For consumers they were not sure, it was a sense of wait and see, and also because many of us did not get our inventory until very late due to the supply chain issues throughout the world,” he said.

“December for us has been robust, we are into the last week now before Christmas and I must tell you that this is our busiest week historically, so this week is extremely important to us. I do not want to count my chickens before they hatch, but we are very thankful for everything that we have received so far, and we are hoping this week will not let us down.”Woolworth’s Managing Director Martin Bryan also voiced similar concerns with the short notice given about the VAT-free day.

He said while a discussion with stakeholders would have offered them the opportunity to better plan for the day, all systems will be ready in time for the rush on Monday.“It’s always good to be a lot more prepared, and before yesterday, I had no idea that this was happening. They did not give us a lot of time, honestly, to get stock in. It’s only one day really, and it’s Sunday, so not a lot of businesses open today,” Bryan said.“In saying that, we got the ball rolling here in terms of making sure our point of sale system on our inventory can deal with the removal of VAT on Monday, which we are going to do tonight.”

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