Sun | Feb 5, 2023

Locals still prefer in-person over online shopping

Published:Friday | December 9, 2022 | 12:07 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer

Although many consumers’ purchasing preferences are shifting from in-store to online shopping, Jamaican store owners say locals still enjoy crowding into shops in search of the ideal gift to present to loved ones during the Yuletide season.

Despite the usual Christmas crowds being overwhelming for some, especially as buyers engage in last-minute purchases, some shop owners say there is “something special” about customers touching and viewing the gift items in person rather than on a computer screen.

This is because they can interact with the items and can decide to purchase based on the quality they have observed, while also being able to compare prices on the spot.

Christine Matalon, proprietor of Craft Cottage, in a recent Gleaner interview, said that interaction with the merchandise was key for customers, especially during the holiday season.

“People love to come in and see the new hand-made things that are made in Jamaica. Yes, online is getting big but you couldn’t find these hand-made products online. You would [just] find the regular things you buy on Amazon,” she said, referencing one online-shopping platform that has been widely used globally, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not the regular run-of-the-mill things. It’s really the best of Jamaica,” she said of her line of products.

After operating for more than 10 years out of Kingston’s Village Plaza, Craft Cottage, in September, relocated to Southdale Plaza along South Avenue, providing them more store space to categorise and display their merchandise.

The shop touts itself as “the one-stop Jamaican gift store” and offers dolls, books, home goods, natural skincare products, aromatherapy products, and much more.

Matalon explained, though, that store owners should not leave out offering online services through the development of their website where customers can make purchases and later arrange a pick-up/drop-off system.

“I think that’s the direction that is happening ... people are shopping online,” she said.

Craft Cottage began displaying Christmas-themed products for sale from as early as the second week in November. According to Matalon, she made sure to be well prepared this year, to please the anticipated crowd between November and Christmas Eve.

Over at Quantum Concepts, an electronic store in Kingston, General Manager Rochelle Jarrett told The Gleaner that, because electronics are often one of the most popular holiday gifts, the company made sure to import its products early in October, to prevent delays.

She added that, although some people will still choose to shop online because of the convenience it offers, or because of personal time restraints, she discovered that the majority of consumers preferred in-store purchasing.

“Around Christmas times, it’s like a 50-50 because [Jamaica] Customs is more full and it’s difficult to get stuff on time for Christmas,” she said.

Jarrett continued by saying that other customers preferred to come in and purchase accessories like phones cases, earphones, games, controllers and so on, especially for kids.

She noted that, in addition to this, the record she said depicted that most sales were generated in-person as against through their website https://shopquantumconcepts.com and on Instagram where both include the option of delivery services.

Jarrett urged more businesses to participate in the revolutionising of the sector through accommodating more localised online purchasing avenues to access a wider clientele.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com