Dollar Store owner Latiffa Rahim shows fabric she has on sale at her lower High Street, San Fernando store.

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Christmas shopping has slowly started picking up in San Fernando a week before Christmas with phones and tablets being the hottest sellers.

Unlike previous years, clothing, shoes and accessories have taken a hit.

At the Dollar Store on Lower High Street, store owner Latiffa Rahim said sales were abysmal.

“Look around we have no customers. Sales went down by 100 per cent. We don’t sell anything expensive. We are begging customers to come in but people have no money. Customers are crying that they have no money. They coming and are short of money. We try to help as much as we could,” she said.

She said cloth fabric was being sold at three yards for $20 and this too was remaining on the shelves. Because of the decrease in sales, Rahim said she has reduced her workforce by half.

At Priyas Creations Christmas Flea Market store on Upper High Street, there was a long line up of customers. All shoppers wore masks and did not seem to mind keeping their distance as they waited to cash. Worker Kyle Douglas said they too had dropped their prices.

He said a drone which sold for $999 earlier in the year was now being offered for $899.

“Over the past few days we have seen a drastic improvement in sales but when compared to last year, the sales were a bit slow,” he said.

Felisha Mohammed who worked at the B-Mobile store said sales have been fluctuating. She said about between 100 to 120 phones were sold per week.

“We have seen an increase in sales. When you buy any of the A-series phones you get all the accessories with it, the free tempered glass, casing earbuds as well as the one year warranty on the phones,” Mohammed said.

President of the Greater San Fernando Area Chamber of Commerce Kiran Singh said sales have been increasing since Divali.

“We have been offering discounts and promotions. We have several private car parks in consultation. Free parking no wrecking on Harris Promenade and the side streets.

Singh said the majority of business owners on the streets were wearing their masks. They have set up hand wash-basins and social distancing is adhered to and what we are seeing strict adherence of the Ministry of Health guidelines.

“Technological devices, smart TVs, bikes, appliances and furniture are being sold. These appear to be the hottest sellers,” Singh said.

Foot patrols and level of crime petty theft is not happening this year and we have to thank the TT Police Service for keeping us safe,” he said.

President of the San Fernando Business Association said even though business owners were selling at cost price, purchasing power remains low.

“We are trying everything. The wrecker as well the police who are giving tickets is a deterrent to shoppers. The vendors are vending on the pavement and the streets and this is also a disadvantage. People don’t like congestion so many are heading to the malls. Parking is also a big problem in San Fernando,” she said.

Bartlett also said that many people had decided not to purchase presents this year because they simply did not have the money to do so.

Meanwhile, in the Princes Town area, there has also been a decrease in sales.

Anisa Bacchus the owner of B’s Books and Crafty Things said, “The season has been very slow. People are buying household and grocery items. Not many toys are being sold. We are seeing a flow of customers in the markets. People are buying necessities and after buying all they need, then they are looking for toys and gifts,” Bacchus said.

She said business owners were looking forward to increased sales next week.