This Christmas, many businesses may be saying that sales are down - again - but according to the Statistical Institute of Belize, the economy grew by 2.2% during the third quarter of 2011.

That puts growth for the first nine months of the year to 2.7% compared with 1.8% in the same period of 2010.

Activity was up in a number of key sectors, but down in Agriculture, Electricity and Water and Government.

And if you're feeling the pinch of high prices, the Statistical Institute says that between February and October, consumer prices increased by an average of 1.2%.

Prices rose by an average of 0.3% each month, except for March and October - fuel prices went down.

There were considerable increases in the prices of vegetables - which went up 20%, oils and fats which went up 9.4%, dairy products which went up 6.5%, seafood - that was up 4.8%, and meats were up 3.5%.

The only bright side is that the price of rice and fresh fruits did fall.

Imports are sharply up: Belize imported about $1.35 billion worth of goods for the year up to October 2011. This represents an increase of 20% over the same period in 2010.

The most significant spending increases were in imports for the Corozal Free Zone - which went up almost 100 million, and imports for the citrus and shrimp industries $35.5 million.

In terms of exports, crude oil led the way: exports of that commodity soared by 34.8% or $64.1 million. Citrus concentrate also showed increased earnings of $14.7 million from citrus concentrate - which offset a $15.1 million decrease in the value of banana exports.

Channel 7