Large turnout in Kingstown for Sunday shopping
Last Sunday, hundreds of persons descended on Kingstown to take part in Sunday shopping, a trend that has gained popularity here over the years.
But while some lament a sluggish economy and that people lack spending power, the vibe in Kingstown and the comments of four out of five business people interviewed by SEARCHLIGHT tell a different tale.
Jason Moussa runs two businesses in Kingstown and on Sunday, the young businessman said he considers his Christmas sales slightly different from what the other businesses might see.
âI do tourist based lines, so this season, beginning late October, when the tourist season started, for me it is good.
âIt wasnât just the December month. I saw an increase [in sales] due to the amount of tourists that came on the ships, so I have seen the increase and itâs good,â said Moussa.
Moussa added that the saying that tourists donât spend money seems to depend on what you are selling.
âI donât know who says that tourists donât spend moneyâ¦they like to take back garment souvenirs, because a T-shirt is one of the best souvenirs you can take back; you can wear it, take it with you, show it off; itâs not like a magnet you put on a fridge and thatâs it. It something that you can take as a gift, so I do well on that,â explained Moussa, who runs the popular T-Shirt Store on Halifax Street.
Moussa also said that his increase in sales is tied to the increase in the cruise ships that have been docking here.
âIt is better than last year and year before,â he disclosed, adding that he does not usually have a problem with shoplifters.
Branson McDowall, a street vendor, said he has been doing business on the streets of Kingstown for almost five years and this is the best year so far.
âIt is better than last year. I sell a bit of any and everything, once I get it, I sell it. Once the market [is] there, I hustle,â said McDowall, who added that he thinks that the Argyle International Airport (AIA) has played a huge part in the increased sales.
âThe airport brings a lot of people in the country, so this year better than last year and the good sales started from since the airport open and the Cubans coming here,â stated McDowall, who sells watches, clothing and other items.
Orlando Browne, who was on Sunday selling toys and running a punch board in Middle Street, said that business has been good in Kingstown so far for the Christmas season.
âIt looking really nice. They say the Christmas dead, but it not dead. It seems as if people was saving their money for today. Also, the jail concert brought out a lot of people and business is good,â said Browne, who noted that he has been hustling in Kingstown since the age of 13, and he is now 26.
âThis is a good year, better than last year so far, so I will continue; everybody shopping,â said Browne.
Long-standing businessman Tony Sassine of A&T Store in Middle Street told SEARCHLIGHT that the last two days were busy, but in his opinion, things will get busier.
âAs usual, people wait until the last day, when they get paid, end of month,â said Sassine, who like Moussa and McDowall, said that the tourist ships and the opening of the AIA, that brought with it the Cuban shoppers, has been good for business.
âI am doing good business with the touristsâ¦the Cubans shop well, but we lost them this month. There seems to be a problem with the airline, so the Cubans not coming this month,â said Sassine disappointedly.
However, a businesswoman, who has been doing business in Kingstown for over 35 years, said that sales have been slow for her.
âI donât know if next week will pick up. I think [it] is the economy and people donât have money. They used to buy the more expensive colognes, but they go for the cheaper knock-off ones, because they donât have money,â said the businesswoman, who preferred to remain anonymous. Besides cologne, she also sells ornaments, greeting cards, cosmetics, hair products and jewellery.(LC)