The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce’s Retail Division has come out suggesting a standardized 25% duty rate for personal imports. This move won’t be well received by many and could spell a death knell for the buy Bermuda campaign. Standardizing duty rates to a flat rate across the board is one thing, raising rates for everyone while giving special concessions to retailers is another. The Chamber risks creating a grassroots Boycott Bermuda campaign to fight their failure to find more reasonable solutions. They should be developing better service and working on alternatives rather than begging for concessions and penalizing all others.
There are a great many who find Bermuda retailers need to do more. In many cases, service is poor, selection is poor and pricing is poor. In many others, it’s the complete opposite. Those with great service are often rewarded. Those with horrible service, sadly still get business if it proves too much of a hassle to find alternatives. This move by the Chamber will be seen by many as a reward for bad service and will instill resentment that leads to fewer on-island purchases out of spite. This likely will prove to be a tremendous gaff on the part of retailers as they could well end up with the opposite results they anticipate.
In the case of this blogger, I buy Bermuda where able, but also buy online. The things I buy online are predominantly not available on island. As an example, I’ve got big feet, 12.5W. I struggle to find any retailer on island who carries shoes even close to this size. Further, I have a preference for minimalist/barefoot shoes. I have little choice but to go online. This duty increase if implemented will negatively penalize me for being a big guy. I resent that and I will blame retailers.
There have been far too many cases where ordering online becomes a necessity because because Bermuda simply doesn’t have the selection and retailers refuse to do custom orders. Knowing that retailers are perfectly willing to shift the pain elsewhere makes it evidently clear that they’re out for themselves, not for offering better service.
I’ll happily take my business where there’s good service and pay a premium. I tip above and beyond the included tip the when I get good service at a restaurant. I give a good tip to grocery baggers who happen to greet me appropriately (why do so few say a simple good afternoon anymore?). I make certain to bring my business back to shops that go out of their way to make sure I find what I need. If they don’t have it but tell me another shop that does or a place online that I can get it, I make sure to take my business back there again.
The problem is that some retailers are ruining it for the rest. Rather than offering better service and finding ways to make things more manageable they simply want to punish those with big feet. Retailers have gotten greedy and this move will likely backfire. Buy Bermuda may be dead as retailers are making a good effort to kill it.