It has not been an exceptional Easter season for retailers or fish vendors, as customers were trickling in even as the final weekend approached.
One the eve of the long weekend, fish remained in high demand, but the supply kept coming up short.
When Barbados TODAY visited the Oistins and Bridgetown fish markets Thursday, there was a hive of activity, but not many sales.
Fish vendors said the slim sales were due to the high prices, which were the result of slim pickings.
The price of fish, including staples such as flying fish, has gone up considerably, soaring to as high as $20 for a bag of ten de-boned flying fish. Bigger fish such as dolphin and kingfish cost around $8-1$0 per pound.
Shontelle Brathwaite, who plies her trade at the Oistins fish market, said it was an average season.
“The season isn’t bad or good. We were expecting the flying fish to come and the price to drop, but that hasn’t happened. They started to come, then it just died down,” she said.
Brathwaite said people generally complained about the prices but made purchases here and there, nonetheless.
“People still complaining but they’re still buying one or two pack. The dolphin is going too, but the price is up and it’s scarce. The marlin is selling. It’s going at S8 a pound. The people are asking for pot fish which we don’t have.”
Derron James, who also operates from the Oistins fish market, said he recently returned to the business and it was taking a while to pick up.
“I’ve just been back about five months or so and it’s been hard. Things are a bit slow for me, but I still have my experience to get customers . . . . Fish just scarce man,” he said.
Tanya Albert, who operates from the Bridgetown fish market, was doing better than most, with “everything selling today”.
“Dolphin price for this year too high, but they aren’t catching so the prices have to be high,” Albert said.
Boat captain Cedric Walters had an explanation for the scarcity of fish, blaming the water temperature.
Walters told Barbados TODAY that because the water was cold at this time, the fish remained south around the warmer waters of Tobago.
“The waters still kind ah cold and I don’t think as much of the flying fish come back up these parts, at least not in time for the season,” he said.
In addition, Walters contended that increased demands from restaurants and food vendors had resulted in the boat captains hoarding much of their catch for customers who would have ordered in advance, leaving little for vendors in the various fish markets.
”Flying fish is a problem. I have a customer who orders 30 pounds from me every day for fish cutters and I does have trouble keeping up with his orders alone,” the 62-year-old boat captain said.
While fish sales were depressed, Bridgetown retailers gave mixed reviews ahead of the Easter bank holidays, a season during which Christians observe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Managing Director of Woolworth Martin Bryan said there had been an influx of customers throughout Holy Week, purchasing treats, sweets and toys.
“The last couple of days have been very busy . . . certainly this week things have kind of picked up on the Easter stuff – the baskets, the eggs, the sweets and treats,” Bryan told Barbados TODAY.
Parents shopping at the Prince William Henry Street retail store were busy buying Easter bonnet decorations, kites and candy for the weekend.
Bryan admitted that though the retail outlet was not crowded with customers, he welcomed the continuous traffic.
At the same time, he anticipated that the end of the Easter school holidays would usher in a surge of back-to-school customers.
“I think from next week onwards, as it gets closer to going back into school, we will get a little rush in the back-to-school items,” Bryan said.
Over on Swan Street, Director of Harmony Shyam Mahtani also reported fairly good sales, and was hoping for a rush on Saturday.
“Since the beginning of this week we have seen a lot of our customers coming in asking for something special for Easter Sunday and Good Friday,” Mahtani said.
Unlike Harmony and Woolworth, Store Coordinator at Cave Shepherd Broad Street Mark Clarke reported a slow week for the popular retail store.
“From the beginning of the week up to Wednesday, it has been a bit slow,” said Clarke, who revealed that although the retail outlet was having storewide sales, the toy department was the most popular.
“We have some customers going up to the toys because they are getting baskets and stuff done. Mainly . . . toys and perfumes and cosmetics are the most sought after departments,” he remarked.
However, in anticipation of a last minute rush, Clarke said the store will remain open until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.