|Christmas sales business,|
From the business community to consumers, none was left untouched or unaffected by the slowdown in Trinidad and Tobago’s economy in the early months of 2010. With just weeks to Christmas, consumers are still wondering how to double their dollar to meet their bills.For parents what does this translate to? How much is it going to impact on the pockets of these consumers? How are they going to manage this sleeping giant? It comes down to choices: what to buy, where to buy and what is the best price? Though consumer’s budgets are tighter now, parents, especially single parents, have been traditionally guilty of over expenditure for Christmas. Pressured by the high expectation of their children and the need as a parent to provide, many exceed their budgets.
Creating a state of understanding is the best form of dealing with situations like this, the understanding that there is need for a budget and the need for spending wisely. Maria, a 27-year-old single parent of one child, said she does not believe in waiting until its two or three weeks before doing Christmas shopping. She believes that during the weeks before Christmas, children want to see the toys on the shelves of the stores and this can assist parents in deciding what they should purchase. Maria said it is wise for parents to be more practical when doing Christmas shopping, and suggests that parents decide if they want to buy an educational toy or a toy car or doll, which the child would destroy in a matter of months. She added that during the year, parents still give their children toys and books, therefore they should not be too extravagant for Christmas, and should not feel guilty doing so.
How are the businesses coping with this slowdown? Over at Bradford, a spokesperson said sales usually pick up, but shopping is for upcoming events and not for Christmas. The busy period for Bradford is at November month end. Items that are the hot sellers are usually ties, suits and the popular dress pants, with the volume of sales, continuing all the way to January. At Radio Shack, customers have not started shopping for electronics. The usual sellers are cameras, laptops and remote controlled cars. We all know that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but at Maraj Gold Designs in Trincity Mall, sales are slow. If there are shoppers they are purchasing the wedding sets, apart from that, there are hardly any shoppers. A store clerk said people were being cautious about how they spend and are probably waiting until closer to Christmas.
At Nigel R Khan Booksellers, Leyla Ramkissoon, a spokesperson, said Christmas is the busiest time. “We have the same people who come throughout the year and enjoy the same bargains. We try to have specials on Christmas books and sizeable discounts so people can get their books earlier and plan for Christmas ahead of time,” she said. Ramkissoon said Christmas meant so much to the store that they have launched the season at all the branches. She said though Dora the Explorer is not a Christmas icon, it was used to launch the season. For the launch there was an official reading of the Christmas story, which was well received. Commenting on sales she said it is consistent. “We brought out the Christmas books earlier so people doing their early shopping would have a wide choice.”
She said the store is like “home sweet home” for the children and they frequent the store. “People are choosing to come in to read, browse and buy.” This store is unique as there is a discount card being given to the children. Whatever the location, whatever the item, almost all businesses are reporting a slow season, but what is evident is that they all remain hopeful that there would be a turnaround closer to December 25, 2010.