Merchants in Bridgetown say it has been slow and steady business all week, with Barbadians not flocking to The City as they have traditionally done in preparation for the long Easter weekend.
“We have been very quiet this week. In fact the first three months of this year were definitely down compared to last year,” said Suleiman Bulbulia, manager of Abeds.
He said even though the fabric and accessories store had attempted to sweeten the pot for shoppers this year by offering a 15 per cent storewide Easter sale, there was no major bump in commercial activity.
“Both our branch here in town and in Sheraton have the sale and we did see a bit of a pickup, but nothing great,” Bulbulia told Barbados TODAY, while suggesting that it was a reflection of the general economic situation in the country.
“Everybody has been complaining that their sales have been down and we are all just hoping that things will improve,” he said.
Over in Broad Street, it was equally quiet, with Mark Anthony, the manager of customer service and corporate communications at Cave Shepherd – the island’s leading department store – reporting that Barbadians were mainly engaging in bargain hunting.
The story was also the same along Swan Street and Marhill Street, with vendor Leonard Allsopp complaining that even the sale of his character kites, which are usually in vogue at this time of year, were slow.
“This last week was very slow, but today I’ve seen a bit of a pick up, as parents come to get the Batman, Peppa Pig and different varieties of character kites,” he said.
Shyam Mahtani, director of Harmony, which is usually chock full of Easter formal wear, said sales this week had been steady but he was hoping for a noticeable improvement by Saturday.
“Bajans are relatively last minute people so we expect that Saturday will pickup. However, generally for this year things have been a bit slow,” he said, adding that the recent increase in cost of living had resulted in less disposable income in the pockets of the average Barbadian.
However, traffic in and out of Sewing World was quite busy this afternoon, particularly in the home department with company spokeswoman Dolores Haynes explaining that the “moderate traffic” was primarily made up of persons looking for items to spruce up their homes.
“Most people are changing their curtains. Some people are changing all their bathroom mats and the shower curtains, so they are giving the house a little facelift for Easter,” she said as customer Angela Collymore excitedly selected flowers for her home.
Collymore told Barbados TODAY Easter was one of her favourite times of the year when she did quite a bit of sprucing up of her home.
“I do this every year because I love Easter like I love Christmas so I am prettying up the house, I have got my flowers, my throw cushions, my placemats, everything,” she said.