Increased sales in the last ten days before Christmas was still not enough to change what was a dismal season for businesses, says head of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddie Abed.
This morning Barbados TODAY witnessed shoppers in Bridgetown scurrying about to get last minute items before stores closed their doors just after midday.
However, Abed explained that even with this last minute influx the damage was already done from November and early December, when businesses would expect to ramp up vital last quarter sales.
“I can tell you as a matter of certainty that all businesses, retailers and wholesalers reported increased activity as of last week Friday. Today, like last week was extremely robust and I personally walked through Bridgetown and a couple of the stores and got a very good sense of people shopping and making last minute purchases. However, the fall off that preceded that for the month of November and the first three weeks of December could not be made up by the very strong last ten days before Christmas,” said Abed.
While the BCCI head did not specifically state that layoffs were on the horizon for 2018, he warned that more than likely businesses were going to be forced to cut cost in the new year, which “is anticipated to be even tougher than 2017”.
“It has been a difficult year and the fact that it was compounded by a very weak Christmas does not suggest that going into 2018 that the retail and distributive communities are going to be in a very good frame of mind. So, I can tell you that the next step from early January will be to discount goods that did not sell for Christmas and secondary to that would be trying to shed expenses. This has to be done to prepare for what is necessary in 2018 because most people will tell you that we do not expect a very good 2018,” Abed said.
“It was important that we had a strong close to 2017 and we did not get that. I don’t think that they are necessarily going to happen in the first two months, but I think you are going to see anything that has incurred costs being a cut. Anything that is considered incentive cost would be the first to go so you would see cutting in areas such as advertising and such like, ” he stressed.