Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Vendors report mixed results from downtown Kingston Christmas sales

Published:Thursday | December 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Christopher Cowen tells how downtown vendors made out over the Christmas.
Karen Coombs
A clothing vendor's goods on show in downtown Kingston, yesterday.
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Vendors in downtown Kingston have expressed mixed feelings over the just-concluded Christmas sales, calling it the worst in years.

"The sales were very slow. It was far less than I had expected because last year this time, I would have about $3 million in me pocket from sales. This year is a little disaster," said Cheryl McLeash, who sells clothing on West Street.

Having spent more than US$13,000 to stock up on goods with the expectation of a healthy return on her investment, McLeash said that the experience has left a bad taste in her mouth.

"Is like me waste me money, seriously, because I don't even sell a quarter of the value of my goods and we looking at New Year's in a matter of days," she lamented.

Karen Coombs, a self-described 20-year veteran in the downtown Kingston vending district, said that she had to send some of her items with a friend to Falmouth in the hope of getting sales to save her US$4,000 investment.

She told The Gleaner that despite what was being said in some circles about the amount of money in circulation, some vendors such as her were seeing little of it.

"The people really nuh have nuh money - 'bout dem prosperity. Is only uptown people have money. Some vendors mek something, but nuff nah get any sales," Coombs said.

... A cheap Christmas

Clothing vendor Christopher Cowan said that he suffered from the lack of sales due in part to cheaper items being sold in Chinese-operated wholesales.

"A cheap Christmas dis. The people spend, but a cheap things them want because dem pocket thin," he said in explaining the reason for the low returns on items sold.

"In fact, still, enuh, I have to give thanks because it could be worse. We have to look at the economy and what a gwaan overseas. These things impact the local economy, enuh," said Cowan.

However, Dunstan Whittingham, president of the Jamaica Vendors, Higglers and Markets Association, said that Saturday was the "impact" day of the Christmas weekend, reasoning that based on information gathered, business was brisk and solid right through.

"Some of them (vendors) will never be honest to say they did well. That's the level of dishonesty we have to deal with. But truth be told, it was massive, and with the New Year's sales to come in, it will be greater," Whittingham stated.

He pointed to the organisation of the shopping district and the eagerness from vendors and shoppers alike for a new approach to vending downtown as the catalyst for the big spend.

"It was a very good Christmas both in sales and the level of discipline of our members. The seasonal vendors also played their part, and the experience, thanks to the police also, was a good one," he said.

More than half of the $13 billion in circulation around the Christmas period exchanged hands in downtown Kingston, according to Whittingham.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com