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Sando businesses brace for drop in Christmas sales
San Fernando businesses suffered a 15 to 20 per cent drop in Christmas sales last year and are expecting the situation to be equally grim this year, Daphne Bartlett, head of the San Fernando Business Association said yesterday.
“Globally, shopping is down and the economy is down around the world. Over the last five years it has been progressively slower. This year is no different as there will be a 15 to 20 per cent drop in sales from last year. And last year was 15 to 20 per cent less than the year before. That is the way it has been for the past five years,” Bartlett told the T&T Guardian. Bartlett attributes the drop in Christmas sales to problems with regional and international economies and their impact on T&T’s economic life.
“This drop is sales has nothing to do with lack of confidence in the economy. It has to do with the global economy, the number of people employed, the number of people with make-work jobs. The disposable income of people is not what it used to be when we had the oil and gas boom. There are the make-work jobs going on but not for as long periods as before. Those are the people who spend money. People in the higher income bracket shop away and they shop online,” she said.
Bartlett is hoping the water taxi service will make shopping in San Fernando a viable option for people travelling from north Trinidad. “We are asking that the water taxis make two additional runs, one up and one down to get into the city. That will be in addition to the runs they have now. It facilitates shoppers that come to the city and because of this they do not have to come with their cars and there will be less traffic,” she said.
Commenting on recent initiatives from the Transport Ministry, she added: “I know the Minster of Transport is going to launch the park and ride which we initiated last year and he will launch it on Wednesday in south. This will assist with parking and getting into the city. There will be parking at NAPA South. That will help,” Bartlett said. She said San Fernando has the best shopping centres in the country because of the high police presence and safety over the past decade.
“San Fernando is a very attractive city to come to, so once there is parking and security shoppers will have a good experience. Shoppers get good prices and usually it is a pretty secure place to shop and do business. That is how it has been over the last ten years because of joint army and police patrols to keep away bandits,” Bartlett said. She said she expects moderate economic growth for T&T in 2014.
“There will be small growth. We are no longer into the boom days. Whatever happens globally affects us. T&T cannot say that it is insulated from the rest of the world. The Caribbean is doing badly. Jamaica and other Caribbean countries have gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But T&T is still doing better than those countries,” she said.
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