…business still slow in San Fernando as customers spend cautiously
Shopping has remained steady in the bustling towns of Princes Town and Chaguanas, but in the industrial capital of San Fernando shopping remains slow in the lead-up to Christmas.In Princes Town, on Friday, business owners said shoppers were attracted to excellent prices, exemplary service, and proper traffic control by police officers.
Parking remains easily accessible on the outskirts of the town while street vendors have been accommodated in the town’s “Triangle,” situated a stone’s throw away from the police station. Yassim Rahaman, who operates an agro shop and a car park at Tramline Street, said a steady stream of customers had been flowing through the town centre.
“People come from as far as Diego Martin, Tunapuna, Mayaro, and Port-of-Spain to shop here,” he said. “The purchases in Princes Town are sometimes 50 per cent cheaper than in other areas.” Several shoppers confirmed Rahaman’s claim.
“In Princes Town people don’t try to dig out your eyes with prices. We have honest businesspeople who will put a small mark up on their goods,” Kamal Ali said. Christine Gopaul and Damien Ali, who were seen buying curtains at Miguel Moses store, said they preferred shopping in Princes Town because of convenience and value for money. “We live in Princes Town and we decided to sew our own curtains this year,” Gopaul said.
At the Treasure Chest Jewellery store, businessman Kazim Mohamed said 2014 was a bit gloomy compared to 2013. He said many customers were purchasing jewelry online. Mohamed said his prices were very good and he had a loyal clientele, and this was what made his business prosperous.However, some business owners said falling oil prices had had an impact on shopping.
Camille Mohamed, manager of Shamell’s Fashions, said, “There are lots of stores where people get reasonable prices, but I think people are watching how they spend.” She said Princes Town has remained one of the busiest towns in the country.Meanwhile, in San Fernando, business owners complained that too many people were window shopping rather than buying.
“We have had people come to the stores but not many of them are buying, like what we saw in previous years,” one store owner said.President of the San Fernando Business Association, Daphne Bartlett, said she hoped that business will pick up as Christmas drew near. She said shoppers were dissuaded by the chaos caused by street vending. She explained that vendors who were given an opportunity to vend on the streets walked with long tables which blocked the streets and pavements.
“Vehicles cannot stop to pick up shoppers on High Street and it is chaos. If we accommodate 80 vendors and some of them bring four and five tables for goods, there will be no room to walk,” she added. Bartlett said because of falling oil prices, people were being more cautious with spending.In Chaguanas, business activity also remained steady.
However, business owners said they expected to have even more shoppers this weekend.President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Rishi Sookhai, said, “Shopping has not picked up as it should. Lots of people are still window shopping, but we expect it will be picking up in an exponential way because we will have a lot of procrastinators who will be catching up on late shopping.”
Asked why people have not been shopping as they usually do, Sookhai said, “People are waiting to get paid, to get bonuses…People are worried about the falling oil prices and they