THE Tobago Business Chamber is optimistic Christmas sales will increase next week. Speaking with Newsday on Wednesday, chairman Martin George said the government’s decision to allow businesses to open 24 hours during the Christmas season will give an ease to businesses faced with covid19 restrictions earlier this year.
He said while the relief programmes and other incentives were able to keep businesses afloat, Tobago businesses are hoping to catch last-minute shopping during the last three days leading up to Christmas.
“Things are beginning to pick up. We are observing all the health protocols. We need to ensure also that we keep advising persons to maintain social distancing, and we will still keep at the government for our request to ensure that they put all the systems in place to facilitate growth and business entrepreneurship in Tobago.” George said the Tobago business community remains hopeful it can make the best out of the Christmas season.
“Emerging from the restrictions by the pandemic that caused businesses to temporarily close to reducing the spread of the virus, we are looking forward to next week and the usual last-minute Christmas rush which usually brings an influx of sales.” Asked if he would call on Tobagonians to support Tobago businesses instead of travelling to Trinidad to do their Christmas shopping this year, he said, “We always view things from a free-market standpoint. At the end of the day, if you make your goods and services attractive as possible to ensure persons are encouraged to stay in Tobago to do their shopping then they will do so.
“If persons think there is some benefit to them shopping in Trinidad or online, they will do so. That’s what business and marketing are about. So we would never suggest to persons that they ought to shop, for the sake of shopping, in Tobago simply because we are saying so.
“At the end of the day we are encouraging business owners to ensure they price themselves, position themselves, market themselves such that persons are encouraged to buy.”
When Newsday contacted a number of businesses, one bakery owner said sales remain slow since people have now turned to doing their own cooking and baking at home after the island experienced its first wave of the virus.
She is hopeful people will make last-minute orders for cakes over the weekend.
Others simply said business is slower than expected. Two other small business owners in Scarborough said over the year’s sales have dropped significantly. They explained 2020 has left a financial strain on their businesses. The men believe if sales aren’t restored to a reasonable state by the end of January, they will have no other choice but to close their clothes stalls.