Christmas shopping flourishes in the west, bringing joy to retailers
Retailers in Montego Bay are anticipating a further spike in sales as preparations for the Christmas celebrations intensify, following an increase in business from as early as November.
"The holiday buzz is gradually building up, more so within the Fairview business district, but I expect that it will increase towards this weekend and going into next week," said Gloria Henry, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI).
"Economic growth that has taken place in tourism, BPO over the year, as well as increased developments in real estate and across a wide range of services, would undoubtedly increase disposable income and greater demand for goods. Our members have high expectations for increased sales going into the season," she added.
Henry is hopeful that there will be additional police deployment in the city to allay security concerns in the downtown and Fairview shopping areas.
"Already, there is considerable level of congestion downtown and it is expected to get worse as shoppers move into the town during the coming week," she said, "We urge shoppers to be mindful of their personal security and be keen about their movements over the season."
For one trader, who operates several haberdasheries across the tourist capital and who spoke on condition of anonymity, while it is still early days, the current season could be one of the best since he started business almost two decade ago.
"It is setting up to be a good Christmas for businesses like mine. There is some evidence that shoppers are returning to the traditional way we use to prepare for Christmas." the experienced merchant said, "Many persons began shopping early, and it does appear as if more money is in circulation than times before, but we will see if this trend continues."
A vendor located along the commercial stretch of St James Street in Montego Bay, who gave her name as Jasseth, said she spent more than $100,000 to purchase goods to trade for the season, but will have to replenish some of her stock, because she has already sold off some items.
"The sales looking up, we can survive," the St Andrew resident told Western Focus with a broad grin, "I will now have to go and buy more stuff for Christmas week. This year is far better than the last three years.
"Those three years it was a two-week Christmas for sellers, when customers do a little quick buying down to the last part leading up to the day," she continued. "So we as sellers would only offer what we are sure will sell, but for this year it is different already, because shopping picked up from November and getting better."
Jasseth shares Henry's security concerns, but admits that the perennial traffic congestion in the capital city works in the favour of the street vendors. "The bumper-to-bumper thing (traffic) allows us to show off what we are selling, so you won't get any complaint from anyone you see sitting here; but we want to see more cops, because the pickpockets are everywhere."