Christmas sales satisfy retailers

Despite the struggling economy, most retailers seem satisfied with the sales during the Christmas season, even if the figures were slightly lower than last year.

Kirk Freeport Managing Director Gerald Kirkconnell said sales were similar to last year, and could have been even slightly ahead of 2008 if not for the weather delaying ships from entering the harbour just before Christmas, causing a slight delay in the arrival of goods.

‘We can say we broke even, though we do expect to see stronger numbers in the days after Christmas,’ said Mr. Kirkconnell.

Cayman’s duty free consumer market is largely fuelled by cruise ship tourists and visitors in the hotels, but many retail managers said they are extremely dependent on the local market. Many said the local market was vibrant this year.

Island Companies Marketing Coordinator Richard Dyer said 2009’s Christmas was a difficult one, but local sales helped.

‘Our cruise customers have been spending less, but we’ve been able to be flexible by offering lower price-point assortment and creative promotional incentives such as our clearance centre at London Jewellers and The Big Pink Sale.’

Mr. Dyer said he was also optimistic about the New Year, despite the pending duty increases facing many businesses and consumers in the Cayman Islands.

‘Duty increases must not affect our customers and we are already addressing the issue at our supply side by putting pressure on our vendors to give us better purchasing conditions in order to compensate for these duty increases,’ he said.

Jacques Scott Group Managing Director Peter Dutton also said sales were slightly down, but not bad.

‘Our bottom line numbers this Christmas season were slightly down, but this was expected,’ he said.’

Other businesses said it was a bit early to tell how they had fared during the Christmas sales season, but indicated that if numbers did dip, it was only slightly and overall, most were happy with the turnout.

Managing Director for Foster’s Food Fair-IGA Woody Foster commented, ‘This year was a bit flat, but flat seems to be the new up.’

Mr. Foster said Foster’s was expecting numbers to be down and so all things considered, it was a good Christmas.

‘We are quite pleased with what we have seen, though we do not know how to gauge the New Year and what it will hold,’ he said. ‘We need to get government some money and keep the crime down before anything else.’

The Reflections stores reported robust sales – and even a run on some items – according to Assistant Manager Steve Houston

He said the sales figures showed a lot of Caymanians stayed on Island to do their shopping.

‘The numbers show that people bought local,’ he said.

‘We still have today and tomorrow before 2010, but I think this Christmas may have balanced our entire year or at least made it about even to last year, despite the economical woes being experienced by many.’