Christmas price gouging

In hard times such as these, one would not think it a wise choice to take advantage of persons during the holidays, although this is what I think a few local companies did.

Late in the evening on Tuesday, 23 December I did my last-minute shopping at a well-known store and it was brimming with people. After a while I finally decided on a few purchases including a Playskool 3-1 activity set priced at CI$32.99. The store clerk said they closed at 9pm. I glanced at my watch – 8:35pm. I had time to spare. I left happy with my purchases that night.

The next day was Christmas Eve and I went back to the store but this time with my sister, my niece and my mother. I showed them the items I had purchased for our young cousins the night before and to my shock and amazement, the same toy was now priced at CI$38.99.

Another electronic game I considered purchasing the night before was CI$24.99 and now it stood at CI$32.99.

Price gouging, that’s the only thing I could think. Why on earth would a business, which is very popular with locals and residents alike, do something like that?

Did they figure their customers would not notice or would not care if they paid a few bucks more for the same gift because it’s Christmas Eve? Looking around I noticed a few other toys with price changes. Some were obvious in that the new price tag did not perfectly fit over the old one, and some were skillfully placed and one would not be able to tell the difference.

I, on the other hand, a customer who shopped there just the night before noticed and left without purchasing anything further.

But this store was not alone in their actions, for another well-known perfume and cosmetic establishment did the same thing by increasing a bottle of cologne from US$43 to US$45. Lord only knows what else had been increased. And although their price increase was not as high as the other store, it was still an unnecessary increase. I think we, the public, were forced to pay for our last minute shopping.

One thing I don’t understand is, if the US is in a recession and they are reducing costs on just about everything to encourage spending and we acquire most of our goods from the US, why are prices ever increasing in Cayman?

I know some people would say that’s what I get for doing my shopping last minute, but it still doesn’t excuse the store owners for trying to squeeze extra dollars out of their loyal customers when times are so hard now.

I will hesitate about going to those stores again when the holidays roll around next year.

Martha Connolly

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