Some vendors at the R.M. Bailey Park said yesterday that Christmas shopping has slowed down tremendously this year.
Kimberley Rolle, a vendor for some 20 years, said this has been her worst season yet.
“We’re competing with Amazon and shipping companies now, and people are tech savvy,” Rolle said.
“Customers are able to tell me how much Target and Walmart has a toy for. So, they’re not interested in paying our prices.”
Rolle said that sales have been dwindling for years, forcing some vendors to either leave the business altogether or come up with creative ways to combat the competition.
Ultimately, she said that vendors are hoping to make the majority of their profit during the Christmas Eve rush.
However, she said she’s still skeptical about that.
“People say it’s going to pick up, but even if it does there’s so many stalls out here and so many people depending on making a profit,” she said.
Karen Brown, who serves as president of the R.M. Bailey Park Association, suggested that the decline in sales may be the result of Hurricane Dorian.
“Things are hard now, but people are still coming out,” Brown told The Nassau Guardian.
“They’re not buying as much as they used to, but people are still coming out to support.”
Over the past few weeks, she said sales have also been impacted by the inclement weather, forcing shoppers to carry their money across the street to Mall at Marathon.
Brown said that the association is currently working on ways to address this issue, but until then, they will have to “roll with the punches”.
Victoria Mullings has worked as a vendor on the park since 2011.
She estimated her sales have fallen by 15 percent in the last three years, noting that there are a lot of factors that contribute to this.
“We have started later than we usually start,” Mullings said.
“So, in years gone by, we would’ve started closer to the beginning of the month, but we began on the 14th this year.”
She said the late start also cut down on the amount of time vendors have to sell their goods.
She added that the market, over the years, has also become saturated, forcing some vendors to scale back on their inventory.
“So, you’ll see more experienced vendors pull back on the retail end and lean more towards the wholesale aspect of it,” Mullings said.
“I’ve seen that happening a lot, and it works out very well. This even enables a lot more people to pop up than before.”
Caroline Richards, a vendor on the park for 18 years, also said that business has slowed down tremendously this year.
“Things are really going slow, compared to the years before,” she said.
“There are a lot more stalls out this year. It has been getting larger over the years. So, that can also be the reason as to why sales has slowed down.
“It could also be that people aren’t spending because prices are so high these days. It can also be the hurricane because a lot of people have taken on their family members from Abaco and Grand Bahama, but this year has been especially slow for me.
“I hope it picks up on Monday and Tuesday. I really hope it does.”
Angela Coleby, a shopper, agreed that many Bahamians are opting to shop online in an effort to save a few dollars, but this ultimately affects the economy in the long-run.
“I always shop at home as much as I can because if you don’t support local businesses, the economy can’t grow,” Coleby said.
“So, you need the money to be circulating in order for us to see the growth that we want. People go away because the prices are cheaper than here, but they don’t have a full understanding of what it costs the local businessman to bring the goods in and make it attractive for the local populace to purchase.”