“I thought that it would have been madness this year again so I shop through. What I didn’t buy was what I didn’t see and de elections come, when I hear is Donald win I went and buy more stuff because I thought would have been more madness,” says housewife, Ronessa Bernard.
Her account mirrored the experience of several businesses that Stabroek News spoke with about the climate just before the November 28 General and Regional Elections and in the run-up to the Christmas Season.
And although post-election street protests are largely away from Georgetown’s central business district, major suppliers of groceries in the city report a slump in business whenever there is a political march.
Though minimal for Nigel’s Supermarket on Robb Street, a senior official of that entity says it’s normal for shoppers to stay away. “It is natural if persons heard that there will be protest they will be more prone to stay at home. So if normally 200 persons come to town to shop, on protest days might be 100 or less,” the official says.
Similarly, N and S Mattai’s on Water Street had to send home its employees during protests and sometimes keep the store’s doors closed because they had anticipated unrest. The Managing Director Harry Mattai is, however, satisfied that sales are soaring again now that the political climate appears to be cooling off. He said also that in addition to the spike in pre-election groceries, sales were also that way because persons were paid early in the month of November also. “Sales were extremely good near to elections then at election time a reason could be that they were paid early. ..Could be the people had used up their money.” He added “Now sales up again but I was not shocked cause is traditional …what I know is that sales are up again and I am glad,” he said.
Back at Nigel’s, the shelves and freezers were filled with walnuts, myriad brands of confectionary, turkey, ham and other seasonal items. The company said that all items in stock are sold all year round except for walnuts and the turkeys and that plans are in train to sell at lower prices on ‘wholesale days’ and have promotions for senior citizens along with their Christmas shopping promotion.
At supermarket chain Bounty and at Survival the responses to pre and post election and Christmas shopping were similar.
Moving across to the Bourda and Stabroek markets, vendors recalled booming sales in rice, sugar, flour and cooking oil before the election season. Now, they think sales will again pick up because shoppers will engage in last-minute shopping closer to Christmas Day. It was noted that at the market grocery shops, especially the popular ones such as Trini’s , Carmen’s and Data’s in Bourda Market and Ramesh and Persaud’s in the Stabroek market many of the items were far cheaper than in the supermarkets. Customers could save as much as five hundred dollars per item for example on a tin of powered milk, that is if they were willing to sacrifice time and had the patience to wait for as much as one hour to be tended to.
Eggs however seem to be climbing in price since during the pre-election period they were sold at $860 per tray or loose at 3 for $100. As of yesterday the price was on average $1100 per tray or 5 for$200, an indication that given the holiday baking trend the demand would increase thus creating shortages. Chicken prices on the contrary remained stable and seemed to have dropped. Stabroek News was unable to ascertain the reason for this.
For housewife, Bernard, having a pre-election stockpile of groceries is not taking too great a chance to spend the money she has in her hand. “I have not yet bought anything special yet. You know I normally buy ham but I waiting to see if my sister will bring anything,” she says.
And Nerissa Singh, who spent her salary and remittances her sister in Canada sent to stock up before elections in anticipation of “madness” and closed markets, intends to only “top up” what she has. “I buy up I ask my two sisters in Canada to send a small piece and I shop and put down” .
Malcolm Haynes, at the insistence of his fearful wife, bought a lot of items and is now awaiting additional emoluments to do some Christmas shopping.
“We live in the country so I know we wouldn’t have been greatly affected but my wife was who I worried about so to please the lady I shop through until I was broke. Just waiting on the extra they have to give us to give my family a nice Christmas,” said Haynes.