Slow going

City retailers longing for Crop Over business to improve

By all accounts, a cloud of gloom has been hanging over Bridgetown retailers this Crop Over season, with store owners yearning for some business.

“Slow” was the word at the tip of the tongues of merchants, as they summed up sales for the three-month long festival.

And many of those who spoke to Barbados TODAY attributed the lacklustre performance to the austerity measures introduced by the Freundel Stuart administration in the 2017 Budgetary Proposals and Financial Statement.

At this time last year, stores like The Shoe Palace was overflowing with customers in search of their Grand Kadooment boots or sneakers.

However, there were no shoppers to speak of Thursday, with store owner Latonya Birkett the only person occupying the floor when Barbados TODAY visited the store.

Latonya Birkett of The Shoe Palace

Birkett was bitterly disappointed with the proverbial dry season she had experienced, although she had anticipated that business would be affected by the Budget.

“Earlier on in the season, we decided that we are not going to bring on anymore stock because we saw the decline in energy early on from our customers, based on the traffic and the amount of calls and people coming into the store. It was a very good decision because right now we still have quite a few boots and luckily we didn’t invest anything else because we would have lots of stock on our hands at the end of the day,” she explained.

Birkett said the Budget had dampened the festival spirit, and had forced consumers to shop around for the cheapest items.

“In their general purchases, they are looking for things that cost a bit less,” Birkett said, while adding that she had been forced to offer discounted prices.

“We normally go all the way out in our boots and we decided to go a bit minimal this year, ensure that our prices are a bit lower. We understood what is happening with our customers and we wanted to ensure that we still got some sales even though it wouldn’t be as many as you expect.

“We’re just rolling with the punches and trying to make smart, informed decisions because as a retailer, if you don’t, you could lose a lot of money,” Birkett told Barbados TODAY.

Andrea Phoenix, the supervisor of B-Sharp clothing store, also reported a slow season for her Swan Street store.

Phoenix reported a significant decline in sales in recent months, with customers more selective in their purchases.

“With the new taxes, a lot of customers are complaining and saying that they can’t purchase this and they can’t purchase that,” Phoenix explained.

While she did not expect a big hike in sales as Grand Kadooment approaches, Phoenix was looking forward to a slight increase in sales over the weekend due to the commencement of Bridgetown Market.

The scenario was no different at Sole Addiction where Nancy Noumeh, the store manager, said there had been a noticeable decrease in sales compared to last year.

Nancy Noumeh, manager of Sole Addiction

However, she said as Kadooment Day drew closer, there had been a gradual increase in the number of customers in search of carnival gear at the Trident House store.

“Everybody is just a bit scared of what is going on in the economy so they are just trying to be wise with their money. But I do have things that are affordable for people so I still find that I get a lot of customers,” she pointed out.

Managing Director of Woolworth Martin Bryan said the Prince William Henry Street store was also a victim of the Budget.

“We have seen a downturn in sales. I have attributed that primarily to the National Social Responsibility Levy which has affected everybody’s pocket, because there is less money in your pocket now as everything has gone up or will be going up.

“Even those things that have not gone up, people are still cautious that it is going to go up so ‘let me shop around, let me hold back for now, let me see what the market is bearing and take it from there,’” he said.

However, Martin is holding out hope that business will improve, as evidenced by the large group of women seen crowding the stockings and shoe isle.

Bryan said he expected a shifting of the tide as the reopening of school approaches.

“Once Kadooment is over there are about three to five weeks before school starts back so we will see a big uptake in sales and customers,” he predicted.

While most merchants were complaining about a slow start, Lydia Alfred-Baston spoke of a booming business at Exotica Makeup in Colonnade Mall.

She said the season had started rather slowly, but business picked up over the past two weeks.

“Business has been good. We recently had our annual hair sale and it went very well. The ladies bought a lot of bundles for Crop Over and makeup is selling like something else,” she disclosed.

katrinaking@barbadostoday.bb

6 Responses to Slow going

  1. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce August 4, 2017 at 4:44 am

    Have a SALE! Simple.

    Reply
    • Milli Watt August 4, 2017 at 10:02 am

      stupse SALE THIS CROWD PLEASE……..all they know is using the place foreign exchange to buy low and sell high. If you buy low and sell low maybe. I say CLOSE AND STOP grumbling

      Reply
  2. Lee August 4, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Stop wasting the little that’s left of our foreign exchange on JUNK. American cultural invasion has Barbadians adopting the most ridiculous buying habits and you have been riding the wave to their impoverishment. Reset your businesses to carry what is appropriate for local NEEDS (not wants) or concentrate on products that will recover some foreign exchange because of their appeal to TOURISTS !!

    Reply
  3. Milli Watt August 4, 2017 at 10:00 am

    In good times it hard, this crowd will never let you know when they do well but able to draw a causal conclusion to their lack of innovation stupse. You need to close in time of NEED then

    Reply
  4. Ossie Moore August 4, 2017 at 10:53 am

    The new ( which was the old ) Caribbean thing is that shoppers in the Caribbean islands are getting together in huge groups and :

    (a)) Getting a shopper who has visa entry into the USA

    (b) Giving that shopper a list of merchandise that is needed

    (c) Collectively paying the air fare for the selected shopper to Miami / New York along with their shopping money to do the shopping for the needed merchandise .

    (e) Return to the island with their stuff.

    (f) . . . . and with all of that the price that is paid for the stuff is still a lot cheaper than buying it in their respective islands.

    Reply
    • Hewers of wood August 4, 2017 at 11:11 am

      great – sense. Good quality stuff too. Not one or two wear items
      .

      Reply

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