It was like Christmas in the summer for some businesses in Bridgetown, which reported strong sales for Crop Over, but for many the season felt like life in the slow lane.
The festival reportedly injects between $80 million and $100 million into the struggling economy.
Event decorators Renaissance Design said signs of a bountiful Crop Over season were evident.
“Crop Over is the second Christmas . . . for Barbados and this economy,” owner David Davis told Barbados TODAY, adding that there was nothing to suggest that people were under financial pressure.
“All the events were burst[ing at the seam] . . . When you see how people dressed for the fetes and stuff, you see that people are spending money on clothes, hair well done, everything is good”.
Business was also good for department store Cave Shepherd, which reported “exciting” sales, with the liquor department among the best performing divisions.
“The sales have been really exciting for us with the additional visitors recorded,” said Location Store Manager Andrew Wilkinson.
He added that he expected even higher sales in the days immediately following Grand Kadooment as visitors bought liquor and other duty-free goods to take home with them.
Meanwhile, Alison Hinds, co-owner of Fashion Conscious, a men’s shoe and clothing store, told Barbados TODAY that sales for this year’s Crop Over season had been slow, although business picked up in the latter stages.
She said the top sellers were shorts, t-shirts and Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, however, unlike previous years, shoppers did not purchase complete outfits.
“I believe that the economy was the reason for the slow start and people were complaining about some of the events that they were too expensive,” Hinds said.
Hinds’ assessment was in line with the island’s largest private sector grouping the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), which reported “depressed sales” for the season.
BCCI Senior Vice President Eddy Abed, who owns the well-known fabric store Abed’s, said his own business recorded a mixed performance with “an increase this year in . . . costume sales to bands”.
However, Abed said that over the past three years or so the chamber has noticed a steady decline in sales due to falling disposable income. He said the situation was made worse this year by the go-slow at Customs.
“Generally this is a trend we have been seeing over the last three to four years, where every year retail sales are on a downward decline. It is directly linked to disposable income,” reported Abed.
“Generally businesses in Barbados have reported depressed sales for the period leading up to the Crop Over festivities. This was directly related to the lack of goods on the shelves due to the Customs slow-down, and also several retailers reported that there was a decreased level of spending for goods at the stores.”
He added that most of the spending went towards social activities and Crop Over shows, but the merchants had little to shout about.
“We have been told and we have read in the Press that the fetes were sold out and the bands were sold out. Perhaps that is where the disposable income went. But generally speaking, sales for merchandise leading up to the festivities of Crop Over were less this year than they were in previous years.”
The storeowner said business operators were now eagerly turning their attention to the upcoming Christmas period, where they expect to make up for the shortfall experienced during Crop Over.
“The members are more concerned about the major events between now and next year which is Christmas. The months of October, November and December, which is the last quarter of the year for retail establishments, represents as much as 60 per cent of their turnover, and easily 75 [per cent] of their gross profit. So if we have to look at anything you have to look at that period. And that is next major event we are all focusing on,” said Abed.