Retail sales in Puerto Rico reached $2,964 million during July 2021, a $347.2 million or 11.7% increase when compared to July 2020. This year-over-year increase was mainly driven by a $114.2 million or 10.3% increase in sales for department stores, a $85.5 million or 23.9% increase in sales for New and Used Motor Vehicles, and a $67.1 million or 19.2% increase in sales for Supermarkets and Alcoholic Beverage Stores when compared to July 2020.
The fastest sales increases when compared to July 2020 where experienced by Sports and Musical Instrument Stores, Gas Stations and Convenience Stores, and Restaurants and Alcoholic Beverage places. Sales for the previously mentioned sectors increased by $43.4 million or 52.7%, $195.3 million or 46.1% and $170.9 million or 29.6% respectively. This significant increase in sales for Gas Stations is most likely due to higher gasoline prices. According to the Puerto Rican Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO) average gasoline prices increased by of 42.3% in July 2021 when compared to July 2020. Meanwhile the sales increase in Restaurants was most likely due to the government doing away with restrictions on restaurant serving capacity at the time.
On the other hand, when compared to June 2021, retail sales decreased by $19.8 million or 0.6%. This was mainly driven by a $41.5 million or 30.5% decrease in sales for electronic article stores, a $38 million or 34.2% decrease in sales for Footwear Stores, and a $30 million dollar or 15.2% deceases in sales Pharmacies.
Conversely, the fastest increases in sales where experienced by New and Used Motor Vehicles, Restaurants and Alcoholic Beverage Places and Hardware Stores. Sales in the previously mentioned sectors increased by $67 million or 17.8%, $22.3 or 13.1% and $13.5 million or 12.9% respectively.
Overall, it was a good month for many sectors in terms of their retail sales. In general figures reflect the short-term effects of the economy opening back up. However, it is important to remember that after July tighter restrictions were put back into places to combat an increase in COVID-19 cases. At the time of writing this article many of the world’s largest commercial ports are experiencing severe congestion. As a result, retail sales are expected to be negatively impacted towards the end of the year.