Christmas retail sales came late

It was a case of ‘better late than never’ this year for Cayman Islands retailers when it came to Christmas sales.

Many Christmas shoppers bought at the last minute this year after a slow start to December, helping to bring retail sales over the holiday period close to last year’s for some local stores.

Jacques Scott Wines & Spirits Manager Retail Division Paul McLaughlin said that although Christmas buying started later this year, sales were looking as good if not better than last year.

And in comparing this year to last year, he said last year had been an excellent year for holiday sales.

Referring to this Christmas, he said, ‘We have met our expectations and we are pleasantly surprised considering the [economic] climate and we believe it’s down to customer loyalty’.

Mr. McLaughlin noted that people definitely left it to the last minute but then decided they needed to celebrate Christmas. ‘It really picked up in the last couple of weeks,’ he said.

Sales at Kirk Freeport during the Christmas shopping season were better than expected but not as good as last year.

Kirk Freeport Vice President Operations Chris Kirkconnell said that after what had been, for the most part, a difficult fall, Christmas sales were down a little on last year.

‘We were anticipating more of a decrease, so it’s nice not to have been down as much as we could have been,’ he said. ‘Our customers showed us very good support.’

There was not a lot of sales activity for Kirk Freeport stores in December until the last couple of days before Christmas when sales went really well. ‘The last couple of days before Christmas helped to save Christmas,’ Mr. Kirkconnell said.

Last Christmas had been very good, he said, because although business was about the same as 2006 there were less cruise visits than in 2006.

This year there were fewer ships again, which impacted sales, said Mr. Kirkconnell.

He said they were waiting to see what January and February would bring.

Managing Director of Fosters Food Fair and Priced Right Woody Foster said they had a good Christmas at all their stores.

Sales were well spread out as usual and business was brisk.

Operations Manager with Reflections stores Mr Lennie Jackson, said that sales were very close, if not slightly down, on last year for sales at all their stores.

There was a lot of last minute shopping, he said, but there had also been many Christmas purchases before that, starting as early as October.

However, he noted that a problem with bank card processing threw off sales when some people said they would come back with cash to make planned purchases, but never did.

One of the owners of Atlantic department store, Dot Japal, also said that the problem with bank card processing took a toll on business.

She said they were just in the process of going through their figures and therefore could not give any definite answer on sales performance this Christmas.

It was certainly different to last year because the flow of traffic came a lot later, she said, with many leaving it to the last weekend or day before Christmas to buy.