Households spent $1.7 billion in 2015

Mixed results in new economic reports show slowing growth

Gross domestic product grew 2 percent last year, slower than 2014’s 2.4 percent growth, according to the Economics and Statistics Office’s annual economic report. Growth in construction, real estate, financial services and government continued to be Cayman’s economic drivers.

A separate report on Cayman’s household spending, released Wednesday, estimates overall spending for 2015 to be almost $1.7 billion, up from close to $1.25 billion in 2007, when the last Household Budget Survey was conducted.

Average spending for people living in Cayman, according to the survey, was $28,411 per person for the year. The survey shows wide disparities in spending, with the lowest 20 percent spending about $9,500 for the year, and the highest 20 percent spending more than $73,500.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Marco Archer, in a statement, attributed the more than 36 percent growth in spending to increases in population and in spending per person.

“The variation in consumption expenditures growth resulted to significant changes in the spending pattern of the average resident in the Cayman Islands between 2007 and 2015,” he said.

Economic measures

The annual ESO report on Cayman’s economic activity notes that Cayman’s GDP growth, a core measurement of an economy’s health, slowed in line with global trends.

In a separate statement, Minister Archer said, “Despite challenges from the global economy, I am pleased that the combined performance of all our productive sectors achieved a growth rate that is higher than expected.”

The report gives a hopeful note for 2016.

“GDP is projected to grow in 2016 by 2.1 percent, given an expected recovery in tourism-related services, stable growth in financing and insurance and growth in construction associated with private and public sector projects,” the ESO states.

Cayman’s core industries, tourism and financial services, showed mixed results over the year.

“The financial services industry continued to exhibit mixed performance,” the report notes. Registrations of new companies and partnerships grew, but the sector declined in mutual fund registrations, insurance licenses, stock exchange listings, and banks and trusts.

In tourism, total visitors to Cayman grew 5.5 percent last year to 2.1 million for both cruise visitors and stay-over tourists. According to the report and Department of Tourism data, the number of tourists coming off cruise ships increased by more than 6 percent, but growth in air arrivals slowed to less than 1 percent. Between 2010 and 2014, air arrivals grew at an average of more than 7 percent.

The construction and real estate sectors showed positive movement last year. The value of planning approvals went up by more than 11 percent to almost $460 million. Property transfers grew almost 9 percent to more than $610 million, many of which were along Seven Mile Beach. The value of building permits issued in 2015 declined sharply from the previous year, but the ESO notes that 2014 was an unusually high year for building permit value because of the permit for Kimpton hotel construction.

How Cayman spends money

The Household Budget Survey, released this week with the annual economic report, details the ESO estimates on how people in Cayman spend their money.

According to the ESO, housing and utilities account for the biggest expense for households, averaging about a third of people’s spending last year. The last similar survey found that people spent almost 40 percent of their expenses on housing.

People spent more on alcohol and tobacco in 2015 than they did in 2007, an average of $642 per person. That’s an almost 300-percent jump.

Spending on transportation grew by more than 125 percent between 2007 and 2015.

Restaurant and hotel spending by people in Cayman also grew significantly, by almost 140 percent.