Sat | Sep 23, 2017

PriceSmart Caribbean sales dip ahead of peak shopping season

Published:Friday | January 13, 2017 | 1:00 AMSteven Jackson

PriceSmart Inc reported increased local sales for its Jamaican store in the quarter prior to Christmas, but sales are down throughout the Caribbean by nearly US$5 million.

The Caribbean segment recorded an overall dip of 2.3 per cent in 'warehouse sales' over the period.

"Trinidad is our largest market in that segment and the difficult economic environment resulted in a 5.0 per cent decline in net warehouse sales compared to a year ago. The Dominican Republic and Barbados recorded small decreases in sales, while Jamaica, US Virgin Islands, and Aruba all saw sales increases," said PriceSmart in its latest sales update.

Caribbean sales totalled US$203.9 million over three months ending November 30, 2016, down from US$208.6 million a year earlier.

The Caribbean segment comprises 11 stores, four of which are in Trinidad, three in Dominican Republic, one each in Jamaica, Barbados, Aruba, US Virgin Islands. The financials did not disaggregate for the local operations.

PriceSmart, which operates 39 stores in Latin American and the Caribbean, made sales of US$716 million over three months, or 3.7 per cent higher year-on-year. Net income totalled $24.9 million over the period. During the quarter, the company added a new store in Colombia, which grew that country's store count to seven. It opened a store in Nicaragua in November 2015.

"The negative sales growth in the Caribbean segment, driven largely by Trinidad, offset positive comparable sales growth in the Central American and Colombian segments, despite some cannibalised sales resulting from the new warehouse club in Managua, Nicaragua, and the new warehouse club in Chia, Colombia. These new warehouse clubs are not far from existing warehouse clubs that are included in the calculation for comparable warehouse club sales," PriceSmart said.

PriceSmart is "not planning any more warehouse club openings for fiscal year 2017, but continues to explore other potential sites for future warehouse clubs in Central America, the Caribbean and Colombia".

PriceSmart charges an annual membership fee to its customers which aids in lowering the price of goods.

"The combination of annual membership fees, operating efficiencies and low margins enable us to offer our members high-quality merchandise at very competitive prices which, in turn, enhances the membership proposition," stated the company.

PriceSmart opened its one and only store in Jamaica in 2003.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com