Retail sales during October 2023, at an annual rate, reported a reduction when compared to the same month of the previous year. We understand that three (3) effects have influenced this result and the consumption pattern. First of all, we understand that the negative effects of the passage of Hurricane Fiona in September 2022 will affect the results obtained in October 2022, raising them beyond their average value, which implied that the data for October 2023 were lower than the of the same month of the previous year. That is, the consumption not realized in September 2022 due to the passage of Fiona was transferred to the following month, overestimating its value and affecting the statistical comparison between October 2022 and October 2023.
Secondly, the October 2023 data reveals the probability that consumers are beginning to experience elevated levels of inflation and energy prices more heavily with a decrease in their purchasing power, which we have already seen. With a slowdown in sales, and thirdly, a slowdown in income as a result of the reduction in the pace of fiscal aid related to the various negative events that have recently occurred in Puerto Rico such as funds for the pandemic, reconstruction, and various aid for these purposes. All this is in line with the prospects for moderate growth in sales in the remainder of 2023.