Reflections on Christmas and the Guyanese trading culture

Cubans shopping in Georgetown

There is something to be said for the sheer tenacity of what, these days, is the remaining handful of traditional high street traders who, against seemingly insurmountable odds, have survived the otherwise  complete transformation of the country’s urban commercial culture, emerging intact though hardly unscathed and even retaining some of the old-fashioned customs associated with downtown trading of an earlier era. 

It showed during this year’s avalanche of seasonal shopping that is now almost at and end. Those ‘old timers’ on Regent and Water streets, particularly, that manage to keep their doors open, still attract customers, albeit in smaller numbers, with items and brand names of the past, in-demand consumer goods that do not carry the Chinese trademarks that now dominate the commercial landscape. Say what you like about the all-pervasive nature of the Chinese invasion, old habits still die hard.  

Christmas and the unchangeable propensity for throwing out the old and embracing the new has been the engine that has kept the hire purchase culture ticking over. The principle of instant gratification in exchange for delayed payment has long been part of the beating heart of what we call ‘the spirit of Christmas’ for working families whose whole year, frequently, culminates with the costly, short-term gratification afforded by the season. It means, as well, a windfall for trading establishments offering in-demand goods ‘on terms,’ prepared to endure delayed payment, acutely aware of the longer term and considerable profit that derives therefrom. ….

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