Port of Spain sidewalks were not busy yesterday as the downtown crowd seemed to be teeming with regular commuters and not the expected throngs of Christmas shoppers, exactly one week before the Christmas holiday.
The Express took a walk along Frederick Street— the commercial heart of downtown— yesterday and Monday to enquire just how much the spirit of shopping was alive in the city.
Several stores were empty, or had just one or two customers, while sales clerks stood at the entrances looking bored with nothing to do.
Some storekeepers said while shoppers seemed sparse during the mid-morning and early afternoon times, the pace picked up during lunchtime and late afternoon—the times most people were on their breaks from work.
The sales traffic this year got mixed reviews from retailers.
Toys—a perennial Christmas staple, jewelry and clothing were top sellers. Electronics, sporting goods and fashion items have seen better years in Christmas demand.
"It might seem empty but since two or three weeks we have been seeing an upsurge in sales. We are busy, busy, busy!" Kevin Bhaggan, manager of Toymart, said.
Jewelry was another top-seller. "All four of our Frederick Street locations have been reporting strong sales—for gold, silver and precious stones like diamonds," Anton Ribeiro of Anton's Gold Rush said, adding this season was actually better than last year.
Stefan Drayton, floor supervisor of Bang Bang, a clothing store, said clothes were flying off the racks.
On the flipside, Radio Shack said the few customers strolling through the stores were indicative of the regular traffic, while Sports Outlet said last year was better.
Wonderful World also said sales were slower than previous years, with one employee citing the traffic restrictions as a main deterrent.
The Christmas spirit was lacking on the streets, with not many people toting shopping bags, or even window shopping.