Year Round, Christmas Sales Down For Businesses

The sharp downturn in the economy last year left some businesses with lower profits than previous years and gloomy projections for this year.

When this newspaper visited three businesses in St John’s on Thursday, the owners concurred that there was a plunge in sales throughout the year and during the Christmas season.

Although many residents flocked the streets of St John’s during the days leading up to Christmas, it appeared that most people were window shopping.  According to the proprietors, Christmas shopping was significantly scaled down this year in comparison to 2008.

The owner of a clothing store on Redcliffe Street told The Daily OBSERVER that his business made about half the amount of sales for 2009 when compared to 2008.

He added that Christmas is usually the time for a spike in sales, but up to Old Year’s, “nothing.”

The businessman noted that he purchased cheaper clothing so that the prices would be reduced to suit consumers’ pockets, but the “whole year was bad.”

Owing to the decline in sales, the storeowner said he went from employing five workers to two.

He was not optimistic about this year, saying that he felt it will be “the same” as last year.

Meantime, across at IT Clothing Store on High Street, the proprietor too said that sales were down, but noted that the business was still able to weather the economic storm fairly well.

“It (business) wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t that bad,” she said.  “Taking into consideration the way Antigua is, we did good.”

The businesswoman said that many customers usually purchase an entire outfit with shoes and accessories.  However, buying single items was the order of the day last year.

She said the business once employed about nine to 10 persons, but had to reduce staff to six.

For this year, she said: “I don’t see anything good for the New Year … People want to save money.”

Moreover, a vendor on High Street said sales fluctuated throughout the year and were generally “slow” in comparison to previous years.

As grim as the predictions may be for this year, the three business owners expressed hope that sales will come out of the doldrums during 2010.

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