The Building Materials sector took the hardest hit with a decline of 19.2 per cent. *File photo
The Building Materials sector took the hardest hit with a decline of 19.2 per cent. *File photo

The Bermuda economy took another blow with the release of the March Retail Sales Index.

The RSI, compiled by the Government of Statistics, shows retail sales fell 2.3 per cent in March, but more importantly, the volume of retail sales fell by 4.1 per cent. This in spite of there being one more shopping day in March 2014 than in March 2013.

This stopped two slight volume increases of 0.3 per cent in January and February.

On Wednesday, the Bermuda Sun revealed the Bermuda Monetary’s latest banking figures show that non-performing loans has risen to 12 per cent for the fourth quarter of 2013. That marks 11 straight quarters that the percentage of NPLs has risen.

And in April, the Department of Stats revealed year-on-year job losses from August 2012 to August 2013 of 1,166.

The only good news in the Retail Sales Index was the Motor Vehicle sector saw an increase of 33.3 per cent as more cars were sold. However, the volume of motorcycles declined

The Building Materials sector took the hardest hit with a decline of 19.2 per cent, despite promotional sales by retailers. The continuing decline in construction activity led to reduced demand for hardware supplies for both residential and commercial projects.

The Food and Liquor sector saw sales fall 3 per cent in spite of food prices increasing by 3.2 per cent and liquor prices shooting up 8.8 per cent in March.

Sales revenue for the4 Apparel stores sector contracted by 3.3 per cent.

Sales receipts for all other stores types was down three per cent. Tourist-related stores saw a decline of 6.7 per cent in sales. Furniture, appliances and electronics stores saw an increase of 1 per cent while boat and marine supplies jumped 43.1 per cent.

Residents declared $3.5 million, or 5.4 per cent less in overseas purchases in year-on-year numbers.