Hours before the start of the lockdown aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 on the island, many headed to supermarkets while a few made their way to Bridgetown to make last-minute purchases.
Several store owners reported getting “a few sales” as shoppers flocked mainly to grocery stores buying only what they needed at this time given the uncertainty of the coming weeks.
Mark Clarke, Location Manager of Bridgetown Duty-Free, formerly Cave Shepherd, said the majority of people who passed through the store were paying utility bills and their Cave Shepherd Card. He said some people also purchased early Valentine’s Day gifts, while some took advantage of sales in the liquor department.
“It has been the same. We haven’t seen an influx of customers. They are mainly paying bills, but in terms of the retail aspect of it, it’s not where the customers are shopping,” Clarke said.
Woolworth Manager Martin Bryan said shoppers were focused on buying foodstuff, toiletries and educational games to take home to keep their families occupied over the next two weeks.
“The flow has been steady. It has been no big rush. There have been no big lines like inside the supermarkets. But it has been relatively okay and people have been picking up things just to keep them through the lockdown,” Bryan said.
When asked to comment on what type of impact the lockdown would have on Woolworth’s staff, Bryan indicated that “it would be huge”.
“Some of the staff are taking vacation for the two weeks, the remainder are going to be laid off for the two weeks. Obviously, our doors are going to be completely closed so there would be not a single cent in revenue coming in. But we do understand why it is being done and we are following Government’s protocols and we are doing what we need to do. But it is certainly going to impact our bottom line for sure,” Bryan said.
The owner of a Swan Street-based boutique who requested anonymity said she only made $10 dollars for the day but indicated that she noticed shoppers passing by with supermarket bags.
There were long lines at two popular supermarkets in Bridgetown and a steady flow at City pharmacies. Some fruit and vegetable vendors were also busy, while employees at beauty supply stores were busy assisting customers who ensured they were stocked up on their beauty products.
“This real hard for store owners because we are seeing people passing with supermarket bags but we ain’t really getting any sales. Yesterday was the same thing, no sales. Last week, I barely went home with anything in my pocket and what little I had was spent in the supermarket. So last week, I went home with nothing actually.
“That is why I was really hoping that people come in town and give the store owners, especially the small ones like me, some money to be able to buy some food for our families. This is really a rough time. But I understand what the Government is trying to do and all we can all do is hope and pray for the best,” the store owner said.
Meanwhile, managers of the larger businesses reported moderate sales. The managers said they understood that at this time Barbadians were prioritizing what they spend their money on.
Managing Director at Abed’s, Eddy Abed said he has been happy with sales at his store over the past few days.
He said he was fully aware that Barbadians were choosing to buy food and pharmaceuticals before they purchase what he described as general merchandise.
“It is a time when we are all going to reflect and we are going to use to do as many projects as we can at home,” Abed said.
Abed mentioned that the lockdown is a déjà vu experience for his staff who were at home for six weeks during the 2020 lockdown.
“We are hoping it would only be two weeks this time around. We just can’t afford another shutdown. It hurts our revenue. We understand the bigger picture and we are going to do our part as good corporate citizens. Our staff is going to do their part and hopefully, we will rebound from this. We can’t control what we can’t control,” Abed added. ([email protected])