Christmas cutbacks may be on the cards

- Advertisement -

As yet, I have not purchased even one card, let alone all the other necessities that ensure survival throughout the self-imposed siege from 24 December onwards.

So I was not at all surprised to read the rather pessimistic view of the president of the Chamber of Commerce, who predicts ‘a challenging few months’ for the Island’s retailers.

Ray Shead also forecasts that once the January sales are over, trading conditions could be worse than the previous year’s. It is easy to forget that the demise of Woolworths, Principles and the like all happened around about that time.

Hard on the heels of Mr Shead’s comments come this week’s States budget predictions, which are certainly not a pretty sight. Apart from the sobering truth that we already know about – deficits stretching further than the eye can see, the probability of higher taxes (assuming that there will only be so many States cutbacks to go around), the introduction of stamp duty on share transfer properties and so forth – we now learn that business visitors this year have gone down by nearly a fifth.

Perhaps the budget is now not so sobering, following this week’s rejection of extra duty on booze and fags. No doubt our beer-swilling, cigarette-smoking politicians will have some great ideas for raising the £4 million that could have come in if they had agreed to raise the prices of their favourite drugs.

It is not at all clear, of course, whether the decrease in businesss visitors has anything to do with the axing of the popular route to Heathrow, but in any event it means that the spending power that was coming in to the Island from these visitors will also have fallen by a fifth. So, too, will the inevitable knock-on effects of enticing business travellers who tend to be followed by family holidaymakers, once they learn about the glorious scenery and environment we are fortunate to live in.

The real problem is that business visitors may not stay as long, but they tend to spend rather more than their bucket and spade counterparts. Indeed, several tourist attractions, including up-market spas and champagne lounges, have been built with just this clientèle in mind.

Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf also makes clear – in case you missed it among the spin – that after all States budgets have been reviewed as never before, tax increases will be the next thing to fall back on. Which leaves me wondering whether the Christmas shopping should be a little leaner this year.

Is it time to gamble on our future?

AFTER years of procrastination, could it be that Jersey might become the gambling capital of the western world?

The States have so far approved only the setting up of a gambling ‘commission’, which presumably will be looking for opportunities to enable this Island to follow the leads set by Alderney and, heaven forbid, the Isle of Man. This might include, for instance, hosting the internet sites of the various online gambling brands which provide services for such entertainment as playing poker and sports betting.

For years now the Island’s data hosting companies – the ones with the large warehouses full of computer equipment that practically bristle with electric current – have been begging the States to be more proactive to enable them to do business of this kind.

Those data centres, you will be interested to know, include one run by Jersey Telecom.

There is obviously some money in this particular area, not only in the technical expertise required but also through legal support, intellectual property and so on. And last year Alderney clawed back nearly £4 million in tax revenue from such enterprises.

But as previous politicians have shown reluctance to allow a casino to open here, the same fear of ‘reputational damage’ has held up any further progress.

It only takes a little recession, however, to bring people to the realisation that sometimes you can’t afford to turn business away, no matter how unsavoury it might appear. So last week 45 States Members voted in favour of setting up the commission, with none against.

And to set aside the fears of those who are a little uncomfortable with the idea of the Island being associated with betting, the commission will have ‘a social role to protect Islanders who suffer from gambling addition’.

Well bless my soul, that’s ok, then. Just forget the psychological principle behind gambling: the more it teases you, the more you want to keep trying.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.