In Guam in 2019, according to the Bureau of Statistics and Plans, the island had 649 retail establishments, with 10,345 employees, which generated an annual payroll of $235 million.
Those 649 retail outlets probably filled a number of the spaces in the 286 businesses in 2019 that were in real estate rental, and leasing.
The retail presence had dipped slightly compared to 2017, when there were 697 retail establishments with 10,149 employees.
What the comparable figures will be for 2022 in a post-pandemic environment we will yet have to see.
According to the sources for our retail story, residents are shopping again in mall outlets and retail properties. But challenges with staffing and salaries are also tipping the balance to shorter hours.
Aside from geography — how close a store is — or what it offers that you want — if not need — what draws repeat business and hard-earned dollars? Good service.
Similarly — aside from an emphasis that all patrons are to be welcomed, as our tourists begin to return to Guam and the region, service and smiles will help too.
On a whistle stop media tour of resorts in Fiji some years ago, I was ready and waiting to move to the next resort early one morning. I asked a passing staff member who greeted us where we could get coffee. He went out of his way to get to-go cups for us from a kitchen that was officially closed. That definitely made my day. I probably gave the resort a shout out too.
Luckily, that particular staff member was empowered to fetch coffee. But let’s face it, he did not have to.
Similarly, helpful staff in our retail outlets not only help sales, but also make memories. And if there’s one thing in our islands we know to be true, it’s that relationships are important. It costs us nothing to be friendly to our customers — wherever they are from, and a focus on that effort reaps its own rewards.
In Guam — as elsewhere — we are dealing with sufficient challenges to doing business that make life difficult that the feel-good factor of generating a smile, even momentarily may make us feel better.
Every little thing helps.
As for those credit cards that make many of us make a swift purchase and the rewards of loyalty programs that stretch expenses and offer partner products as well, they are here to stay and indeed growing.
Check out what’s new in this issues feature on what you may be missing in your wallet, or whether you need to download an app and start accumulating points.