Some local retail and food-based businesses agree sales are down and they are being forced to cut costs in different ways, but they aren’t sure if the HST is completely at fault.
Almost 12,000 full-time jobs in B.C. were lost in June, according to Statistics Canada.
Don Shaw, owner of Sooke Trading Post on Otter Point Road said he can relate.
“Well, this has been a harder year than any before. Any before, ever. I’ve been here for 12 years,” said Shaw.
“I can’t blame it on the HST but something has triggered this. Like I normally have one to two people working for me at this time of year, I’m here alone to cut costs.”
Since the new tax structure was adopted just over a year ago, things that weren’t subject to PST like restaurant foods and beverages and some non-basic grocery items like chips and pop are now subject to 12 per cent HST. And that, coupled with a slowly-recovering economy and less-than-ideal summer weather, has left many store owners worried.
“Business has been affected all year,” said a Village Food Markets employee who didn’t want to be named. “A lot of our business has to do with tourism, we haven’t seen any of this because our weather has never kicked in so I mean yeah, we’ve noticed it a bit.”
As a result, to stay in the running the grocer has had to reduce prices to match the competition. Other establishments, like Sooke Serious Coffee, try to save by ensuring nothing goes to waste, said barista Rachelle Smith.
“We just have to be more careful using all the product,” she said.
Traffic is less than what it usually is at the coffee shop, with sales down 30 per cent compared to last year.
“It was getting really slow during the Christmas holidays, throughout the whole day, but now it’s starting to pick up within the last month. But I also think the weather has a lot to do with it,” said Smith.
Things aren’t all bad, however. Jason Dumont, owner of Dumont Tirecraft said his automotive store hasn’t been affected.
“Nothing changed because my business, everything was always taxed the same. It’s easier for us to deal with.”
Instead of filling out a separate form for both PST and GST when remitting taxes, he only has to worry about a single HST form. In addition, he saves money because he doesn’t have to pay tax on the tires that he doesn’t sell, where previously PST was charged regardless, he said.
“It makes our paperwork, our life way easier that’s for sure.