Bermuda restaurants face closure from plunging revenue
Retail sales plummet to a six-year low
When inflation is taken into account retail sales contracted by 7.8 percent.
The slump came after some sectors had reported a promising November and December. During both months the apparel sector saw sales grow when compared to the previous year’s figure. The growth ended in January, sales fell 5.3 percent compared to 2010.
A number of restaurants across Bermuda could be forced to shut down in the coming months and years due to the economic downturn, the head of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce's restaurant and nightclub division has warned.
Walter Simmons, who also owns Bouchee and the Rotisserie Grill, said things had become so bad for the restaurant trade that some eateries' takings were down by more than 50 percent and he feared many would not survive as a result of a drop-off in local and tourist business.
But Mr. Simmons said that there were several ways in which Government could help restaurateurs, adding that they needed to look closer to home to cut down on expenses and save money where they could, in turn helping them through these tough economic times.
Among the changes he would like to see for restaurants are a freeze on payroll tax and social insurance and continuation of tax concessions for imported materials used for renovations.
"I would certainly like not to see an increase in employment taxes, because we have to pay half of everything for our employees, including their pension, payroll tax and social insurance," said Mr. Simmons.
"If we don't see any increases in taxes that would certainly ease everybody up." Mr. Simmons said that his biggest concern was Government overspending on projects such as the new cruise ship pier at Dockyard - at a cost of $60 million to the taxpayer - 70 percent more than budgeted. And rather than splashing out $800,000 on reforming the Corporations of Hamilton and St. George's, it could have better spent it on the likes of putting more police on the streets, he said.
Government had also incurred costly legal fees, for instance, having to pay out more than $3 million after losing its case against Bermuda Aviation Service Ltd. over private jet service exclusivity rights.
"I would also like to see less spending by our Government because the more they go into debt the more taxation they are going to be looking for to increase their revenues," he said.
"The Government needs to look at the economic environment and the overspending, but credit to Paula Cox for saying to the powers that be they couldn't afford to pay $25 million to Sir John Swan for his building because they didn't have that kind of money.
"All this frivolous spending is reflecting badly on small businesses and we are suffering as a result."
And he reckons the future is looking bleak for the restaurant trade in general as people tighten their purse strings and watch what they are spending in the current climate.
"I know some restaurants are down over 50 percent now because obviously Bermudians are not eating out as much as they used to because they are nervous and watching their dollars and there are few to no tourists here," he said.
"There are going to be some closures and I think some restaurants won't make it through this economic climate - things are tough."
Ewart Brown circles the globe,rubbing shoulders with the rich & famous, while Bda. Inc collapses.
Ewart Brown/Cox gov't frivolous spending PLP gross incompetence and mismanagement.
Now the chickens come home to roost
2009 was the worst year for Bermuda tourism in 40 years. Tourism insiders estimate that tourism is down by at least 30%.