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Stores ready for Christmas
An assortment of Christmas goodies like English toffees, butter cookies, imported biscuits, dates, dried fruit, hams, snacks, candy and chocolates are enjoyed during this season of goodwill. President of the Supermarkets’ Association Vernon Persad says companies have already started hosting trade shows for clients. He even anticipates there will be no “significant problems” in getting the goodies from the ports to the customers. Interviewed recently, Persad said: “A number of companies have started internal trade shows for local supermarkets and groceries. The supplies would be delivered once they receive volume requests. Everything is on board and on time. We don’t anticipate significant problems, based on the feedback from suppliers.”
With Divali being celebrated on October 26, Persad said, stores had begun re-merchandising for Christmas sales. Persad added: “We are looking at items like non-alcoholic wines and imported liquor. “Alston’s Marketing had their trade show and it was well-received. They usually present specials before the hectic season starts, so consumers can book their orders. “They can engage in better planning rather than last minute. As soon as Divali is over, stores would be re-merchandised for Christmas.”
Support for local manufacturers
Persad said businessmen tend to support local manufacturers. He described locally produced hams as “champions in the store.” Persad said: “Locally produced hams take up a significant proportion of Christmas sales. Although we have foreign biscuits, we still have significant sales from Bermudez.
“Several brands of locally bottled wines are used in the preparation of fruit and black cakes. People would opt for the locally produced ketchup (Matouks) instead of Heinz. When you look at the geographic distribution, the local Blue Waters still beats the sales on other types of imported water.” Persad said the local manufacturing sector was strong.
He said: “We commend them. We are about supporting local consumption. It’s better for the economy.”
Contingency plans for containers. As the curfew enters day 70, Persad said businessmen have had to put contingency plans in place to mitigate levels of inconvenience in clearing containers. But generally, he said, the containers were being cleared easily at the ports. Persad said the containers’ contents range in value from US$30,000/US 40,000 to US $100,000. They are vital for domestic consumption since “we (T&T) import about 80 to 85 per cent of our foodstuff.” Persad said: “We have had to readjust times. Instead of letting the containers come, we let them break it the next morning. If it is at the warehouse, we would have accepted it earlier. The expansion has made it easier for supplies.”
Persad added: “Supplies have not been affected significantly. In certain regions, if they have to return a container, it would have to remain the following day. Containers come via transport containers from north.” They contain products like goat meat from Australia, potatoes from Canada, legumes from the US, onions and beef from Holland. Prior to the curfew, Persad said, a number of containers stacked with whiskey and Divali ghee left various ports with security escort. He noted even at the warehouse a shipment of ghee might incur additional security costs. Commenting on the curfew, Persad added: “It has been good. When we speak to the customers, we get a sense they feel safer. People are saying, ‘If I am a law-abiding citizen I have nothing to fear.’”
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