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Businesses complain of sluggish sales

KINGSTON — Retailers are not quite feeling the joy of Christmas just yet. But, some remain optimistic.

Sales have picked up a bit for department store, Ammar’s. The store – which sells clothes, shoes, houseware, and toys – is fully stocked for holiday shopping, said its director, Michael Ammar.

Retailers are not quite feeling the joy of Christmas just yet.

“It has picked up a bit this week, but we are not seeing the usual rush,” Ammar said. “We hope to see it towards the end of the week.”

Usually, the season’s shopping would start in the middle of December, but it’s not yet bustling, Ammar said.

As for the sale of toys, that is usually made five days before Christmas, after the essential items have been purchased, he said.

With the 25th just days away, Wholesale club, MegaMart has already seen the Christmas shopping. “The shopping started last weekend, and it’s probably running a little better than last year,” said Gassan Azan, MegaMart’s chief executive officer.

But Maxie Department Store is singing another carol.

“It has been quite slow compared to last year,” said Terrence Williams, the company’s managing director.

With locations in seven parishes, he said that sales for the holiday period are down, with its Mandeville store’s sales falling significantly.

During this time of year, the spending is on household items, Williams said.

“Customers would have begun making purchases for their homes at the end of November and buy clothes during Grand Market,” he said.

Job uncertainty

By William’s reckoning, the slow sales could be the result of the uncertainty in the public sector about their jobs.

Jamaica Chamber of Commerce president, Francis Kennedy said everyone is being conservative. “Jamaicans wont spend until the confidence picks up,” he said. “People are saving their cash. Everybody across all strata is taking that approach.” (Observer)

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