Vendors, merchants see some Christmas rush
Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
With persons able to get items like costume jewellery for as low as $10, downtown Kingston was its usual vibrant self as shoppers prepared for Christmas Day.
Pedestrians had to watch their step as they navigated the sidewalk stores taking over the already narrow streets.
Some vendors took to microphones or loudspeakers to bring attention to their offerings. One store doing great business was Sophia's. Donovan Chambers, who manages the clothing store's branches, said they have been seeing the Christmas crowd since late November. Overlooking the crowd at the 'Big Tree' outlet, Chambers noted the store's popularity.
"I got here at 6:30 this morning (Monday) and we had people here from Westmoreland buying stuff," he said.
"We carry different styles and they are cheap, so that's why people flock us."
He promised customers they weren't going anywhere.
"Wednesday (Christmas Eve), we going right back to Christmas morning. We open all night," he said.
Sherene Sang, store manager of Joseph's on King Street, said sales have been "up and down" but have increased since last week. When asked to compare sales to last year's, she was cautious.
"Every year it gets slower for everybody, so we can't compare yet," she said.
Sang noted customers have been buying children's stuff, for newborns to those about age 10. She promised the store's red-tag offerings would continue past Christmas "as long as those particular items are in stock".
Even smaller vendors like Horace McFarlane are positive.
"It (sales) not bad ennuh, it a pick up one, one," he said.
McFarlane and his two assistants sell dinner table coverings. At $500 for two and a half yards, he feels his prices are reasonable. But he's not ready to compare this year's sales to 2013's just yet.
"We have tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday, so mek wi see," he said. For others, things weren't as rosy.
"Sales stan' up," said Tricia Taylor from her spot on Barry Street. "Seller more than buyer right yah now. Di people dem a bawl seh nutten nah gwaan."
Still she plans to stay on the streets into the night, peddling her dinner table mats and doormats.
Uptown shoppers had a little more space to patrol the stores in search of good deals. Parking spaces were at a premium, causing traffic not only on the streets but the plazas. At least two popular stores reported an upturn in business.
"Things aren't bad, it's picked up nicely," said Pauline Malek of Ammar's. "Saturday was good, so I think it will continue to Wednesday."
Malek noted women's clothing and accessories like handbags were doing very well, as were items from the houseware department.
"People are always doing over their homes," she said, noting drapes and comforters are among the big sellers.
"Rugs also sell very well now."
Like other stores, Ammar's has taken on extra staff, mainly students who have finished exams. They have also extended opening hours since the beginning of December.
"Every week, we lengthen it a little. Of course, by the end of the day, we're exhausted," she said with a laugh.
Angela Lovelace, store manager for Lee's Fifth Avenue in Tropical Plaza, said the store has been seeing a tangible increase in traffic since about a week ago.
"We've seen some improvement in sales," she said.
"Individuals are getting apparel for both gentlemen and ladies."
She said customer feedback has been positive for the most part, as persons have been finding what they look for and like the prices. Lovelace also said houseware items have been selling well.