SUMMERSIDE — Clothing retailers here are concerned about losing their competitive edge against off-Island businesses with the onset of the harmonized sales tax (HST) on April 1.
Several businesspeople who spoke with TC Media recently expressed concerns that shoppers might lose one of their biggest incentives to buy locally — the current lack of PST (10 per cent) on some clothing items.
With the beginning of HST, clothing and footwear (excluding children’s sizes) will get a nine per cent increase in tax.
“A lot of our customers are not happy about it,” said Sharon Poirier, manager of Alia N TanJay, in Summerside.
“They’re shopping now because of the HST coming into effect in April . . . I think it will take a while for them to get used to it.”
“We had an advantage in a way, because a lot of people who came over here from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick loved just the five per cent GST on clothing. And I think we may possibly lose some of those customers because it’s not going to be an advantage for them anymore,” she said.
It should be noted that Islanders will actually start paying less tax on many goods and services with the introduction of HST.
Current tax rates for most things are set at 15.5 per cent, while HST will bring that down to 14 per cent.
Still, Poirier said she’s sad to see the adult clothing and footwear exemption go.
“P.E.I. is going to lose a uniqueness. But then again I thought that when we started opening on Sundays,” she said.
And just like that transition to seven-day shopping, Islanders and visitors will just have to get used to it, said Krista Perry, manager of Eclipse in Summerside.
“Once six months comes — we’ll all be used to it by then anyway. It’s just a change that we’re not used to,” she said.
A full listing of items and what taxes will be applicable to them is available online at http://www.peihst.ca.