Supermarket reports rush for 20% rebate items

A decision to offer a 20 per cent rebate on National Flour Mills (NFM) brands of oil, flour and rice from last Friday has so far been a resounding success at branches of Naipaul’s X-tra Foods.
The gesture by Naipaul’s follows an announcement on Thursday by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of a Government-subsidised 20 per cent rebate for those food items, which is supposed to start at food stores around the country today and run until tomorrow.
Manager at the Grand Bazaar branch of Naipaul’s X-tra Foods, Ashton Edwards, said yesterday the grocery decided on its own gesture of goodwill by bearing the cost of the discount from an earlier date.
This was done to accommodate the thousands of shoppers who would have visited the chain at the weekend.
The venture was so successful, Edwards said, that the grocery was out of stock on those items by Friday night and received a new delivery on Saturday.
“We had a few minor hiccups that were worked out quickly but, overall, it has gone really well,” Edwards said.
“At this point we are stocked up and well prepared for the next two days.”
In Port of Spain, some groceries were still rushing to change prices, while others opted to leave the original prices on the goods and simply add signage to their displays, to indicate that the rebate was in effect and to clarify what final prices would look like at the check-out points.
The announcement of the rebate, made by Persad-Bissessar at last Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing, was met with a degree of frustration by some grocery owners, who were concerned that they could suffer losses on stocks purchased prior to a “good-for” date declared by the PM.
Some of these concerns were reflected in statements by head of the Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Vernon Persad, who said the gesture, while done in the spirit of the season, should have been given a wider time frame.
The rebate was to be offered for goods purchased by store owners from NFM on and between December 16 to 24, Persad-Bissessar had said.
The rebate period for benefit to consumers was stated as being today and tomorrow for the following items — Ibis, Lotus, Good ‘N Natural, Cuisine and Hibiscus flour in two-kilogramme packages, Ibis, Lotus, Club Select and Hibiscus flour in ten-kilogramme packages and all sizes of Lotus soybean and rice.
The offer is valid only for NFM brands of these staples.
On Friday, the Ministry of Trade sought to assure food retailers that a system will be put in place to ensure that they do not suffer losses, once they have offered the rebate to customers.
While many consumers out and about in Port of Spain yesterday said they have already purchased these items for the season, some said they will take advantage of the offer on oil.
“Not so much the rice and flour because you cannot store for long,” said San Juan resident Usha Ali, who visited Charlotte Street to look for bargains on household and personal items.
“I am planning to buy a lot of oil, though, because that is easier to store and January could be a hard month for some people.” See Page 11
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