In stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of downtown Port-of-Spain in the days leading up to Christmas, the usually busy Charlotte Street was almost devoid of vehicular and pedestrian traffic for most of yesterday’s Boxing Day holiday.
Save for a handful, the majority of stores also remaining closed.
In fact, many vendors, including those who sold produce, clothing and toys, described sales as the “worst ever,” with some saying their losses had run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, while others said they barely broke even.
Businessman Anno “Blacks” Persad said he invested some $100,000 in toys and barely made $20,000 in sales during the Christmas period. He said sales were so slow on Christmas Day that he closed his store early and went home.
He said the expectation that sales would pick up yesterday also never materialised, as sales were “even worse.”
When the T&T Guardian visited yesterday, a despondent Persad, who owns Sweet Look on Charlotte Street, was busy loading toys onto a van to take back to his Aranguez warehouse, in the hope that next year’s sales would be better.
“I just feeling sick…I made four trips for the morning already packing up toys because sales just dead. Right now my wife quarrelling with me because she told me not to invest in the toys.
“And when you take the goods from the wholesalers you have to pay them…whether or not you make any money…you have to pay them from your own pocket,” Persad said.
On the reason for the slow sales, he blamed it on poor spending on the part of customers.
“This year like people just freeze their money. Nobody spend money at all. They way I feeling with all these goods left behind I cannot even describe it,” Persad added.
Asked whether he believed calling a sale for the unsold items would be prudent, he said, “They didn’t buy anything for Christmas…what make you feel they would buy now?”
Vegetable vendor for the past 27 years Nari Boodoo, who also complained that he saw a drastic reduction in sales compared to last year, said there was also no definite word from Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez.
“We just waiting to see what happen. We have no definite word on anything,” Boodoo said.
Boysie Cupid, from Laventille, also a vegetable vendor, said previous mayors had allowed the vendors to sell from around December 12 each year for a two-week period. But this year the vendors were only given the green light to sell on the Wednesday of Christmas week and only for four days.
“This Christmas it was just a loss. Slow sales and vendors had to come out late also cause all this depression. It was really terrible. The people who come out just was not buying like the previous years. People hold back their money…now thing really hard,” Cupid said.