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Sunday, 22 July 2012

Jersey is still dependent on tourism

The old shop front
You may or may not know that one of the businesses surveyed every quarter in order to compile the statistics on Jersey retail sales is my own. I was in the completely novel position this quarter, of having to show an increase in sales of more than 5%. So the question is why is this happening amidst an economic depression?

Let's just clarify those numbers somewhat I submit solely the retail sales made in the Central Market premises, and specifically exclude the inter-jurisdictional sales made from my website, from eBay and through Amazon. These now account for about 50% of the total business from 0% within 3 years, but when you are the cheapest on the internet, it is fairly easy to make sales in this way. Major producers are now making fundamental changes in the way their goods are sold on the internet which has begun to destroy their own businesses, but that is a topic for another post.

The changes to the VAT have not really had any effect other than to make me re-target sales to France, Germany, Spain and Italy (for whom there is no requirement to pre-pay the VAT) and solely away from the United Kingdom. Australia remains one of the major destinations for my goods.

What has always surprised me is that Jersey people purchase items from me on the internet when the prices in store are cheaper, plus they get all the customer service such as having the watch made to fit free of charge and you get to haggle over the price.

But then there is a misconception that things are always cheaper on the internet. Whilst this may be true for many product lines, for jewellery and watches, Jersey is still the best place in the world to buy, which is why there are over 40 jewellery stores in a place where only 100,000 people live and the number of people who come back from around the world and ask me to value their purchases only to be disappointed when they discover that they could have bought the same thing at half the price at home is significant.

I love the summer. There are a number of customers built up over the years who specifically come to Jersey and specifically to my shop because they like the service they receive. The small business, proprietor owned and operated always compare favourably to the chains with staff who lack knowledge and more often than not aren't really interested in being there or in serving the customer. This is the exact same problem as is represented by government.

I would suggest that it is because there is still a goodwill towards Jersey from many people around the world,  there is still the opportunity for Jersey to restore it's tourist industry and all it requires is a few simple changes.

The government is so concerned with ensuring its own growth both in the amount it spends and in the number of people it employs, it managers are solely concerned only with ensuring their own personal importance and salary that they have lost sight of their purpose. To serve the wider community.

Government has the monopoly on coercion, it can wield its power indiscriminately and without regard to justice, it lies, cheats and steals, imprisons and threatens at will. It is a law unto itself.

However in the long term it is only by ensuring that standards of service are maintained that the future is ensured, government unfortunately does not look any further than the next tax increase, pay rise or budget allocation.

On the future of the Central Market

The leases on the Central Market expire in December 2013, small successful enterprises which operate without any need for Government whatsoever, which make the government so much money that they do not know what to do with all the income (which by covenant must be used within the markets) so they nominate the salaries of ever more senior civil servants to the market to get round this. The Central Market is a major tourist attraction. It is a shining example of how well things can work in the absence of government, it is not on the waterfront.

Its continued existence proves that individuals know better than government how to operate their own lives and what decisions to make.

It is an echo of Jersey as it used to be before Horsfall, and before Walker and a constant reminder of the limitless failures of the States of Jersey in the time since then. Therefore it is a target. Watch what happens in the next 18 months...