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Private sector banking on FNO for economic stimulus

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, September 06, 2012    

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PRIVATE sector leaders are banking on today's Jamaica Observer celebration of Fashion's Night Out (FNO) to provide a much-needed boost to a fragile retail sector.

The celebration will see hundreds of stores across the island offering discounts of up to 70 per cent on merchandise from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. It is a tremendous boost to a retail market hammered by the weak domestic economy, said Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President Christopher Zacca.

"This is the kind of approach we need to find ways to boost spending in a very tight economic situation," said Zacca,

The PSOJ president said retailers have generally reported flat sales this year against the background of weak consumer purchasing power.

"My sense is that there is some concern creeping into the retail sector which, if the trend continues, could lead to retailers having to make decisions as to how they manage their costs etc," he said.

Following a contraction in the first quarter, the economy saw 0.1 per cent year-over-year growth in April to June, reported the Planning Institute of Jamaica. What's worse is that the planning agency is projecting that the economy could contract by as much as 0.5 per cent for the current quarter, which ends in September 30, albeit, with the possibility of 0.5 per cent growth on the more optimistic side of the forecast.

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President Milton Samuda anticipates a massive turnout for tonight's event.

"We expect it to be another roaring success and have encouraged our members to participate," said Samuda.

The JCC president lauded the initiative as "a shining example of innovation".

"When you have a government that is constrained to provide the stimulus that the economy needs, the private sector has to come with innovative ways of doing this," he said.

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