Business

60% of sales during the second free-VAT day in Colombia were made online

Colombia's government adopted some restrictions to prevent the large crowds in physical stores observed in the first special date last month

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  • Total sales reached between COP 4.8 billion and COP 5 billion, a little less than during the first VAT-free day;
  • Some e-commerce websites presented problems with the high demand.

On the second of three days without Value Added Tax (VAT) promoted by Colombia‘s federal government on July 3, e-commerce was the protagonist. If during the first day, on June 19, the special date was targeted by critics because of the large agglomerations that it caused, last weekend things occurred more smoothly – even if some sales platforms faced technical problems.

La República reported that, according to Jaime Alberto Cabal, president of National Trade Federation (Fenalco), e-commerce sales rose from 40% to 60% of total sales compared to the first day.

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Total sales reached between COP 4.8 billion and COP 5 billion, of these, 30% would be for goods exempt from VAT. On the first day without VAT, sales exceeded COP 5 billion. The three days without VAT collection were passed as a way to reactivate the economy seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Minister of Commerce, José Manuel Restrepo, transactions grew 92% over the previous year, and the values increased 57% in the digital channel. Compared to the first day without VAT, it grew 19% in transactions and 33% in traded values.

However, users complained about long waiting times on Ktronix, Falabella and Alkosto websites. In the latter because there were more than 500,000 people waiting to be served. 

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In this sense, Víctor Manuel Muñoz, presidential adviser for digital innovation, recognized that several platforms had problems and noted that this is part of the challenges of digital transformation where they will have to invest, adapt and improve their services, “since e-commerce is here to stay”.

The government ordered that household appliances and tech items would only be sold online to avoid crowds at stores, and this had a positive effect on e-commerce.