Wed | Sep 30, 2020

PriceSmart sales spike in Jamaica, Caribbean

Published:Friday | July 17, 2020 | 12:15 AM

PriceSmart Inc, operator of large supermarkets across the Americas, reported double-digit increased sales for its Jamaican store in the third quarter ending May, but remains cautious about possible expansion plans.

Sales throughout the Caribbean outpaced growth in other regions for the membership shopping chain, signalling faster recovery from COVID-19-induced economic difficulties.

The big markets in the Caribbean which drove sales were Dominican Republic, which opened a new store late last year, while same-store sales were higher in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. The smaller markets in the Caribbean, including Barbados, Aruba and US Virgin Islands, were not discussed in much detail in PriceSmart’s earnings report.

Dominican Republic led with growth of 21.4 per cent, followed by Trinidad with 16.4 per cent, then Jamaica with 11.8 per cent.

The Caribbean segment comprises of 13 stores, five in Dominican Republic, four in Trinidad, and one each in Jamaica, Barbados, Aruba and the US Virgin Islands. Net sales for the region totalled US$266 million in the third quarter, an improvement of 9.6 per cent.

Sales in Central America grew 1.2 per cent; while Colombia, which sits on the South American continent, declined by 14 per cent.

Sales across the PriceSmart group amounted to US$768 million – split 56.7 per cent Central America; 32.1 per cent Caribbean; and 10.3 per cent Colombia. Its network across the three regions comprises 46 stores.

PriceSmart opened its one and only store in Jamaica in 2003. It planned to open a second location this year, but put those plans on hold due to market uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“We continue to evaluate when to restart previously announced construction of future warehouse clubs on land that we acquired in Bucaramanga, Colombia, and in Jamaica, as well as other capital projects,” the company said.

The latest addition to the chain was in June in Costa Rica, which now has eight stores. PriceSmart also expects to open its eighth in Colombia during its second fiscal quarter of 2021. Its ninth location in Colombia, however, remains on pause similar to the second location in Jamaica.

Amid the economic uncertainties, PriceSmart also furloughed approximately 80 employees in the United States and implemented temporary salary reductions, ranging from 10 to 30 per cent, for some employees and executives.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com