By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Food stores yesterday said the return of Saturday shopping and longer opening hours will ease "a lot of the pressure and stress" caused by Friday afternoon crowds trying to beat weekend lockdowns.
Bradley Rolle, Centreville Food Store's general manager, told Tribune Business: “With the stores now being able to open up on Saturday’s, what that will do is that will take a lot of pressure off of that Friday late shopping. It was a lot of stress with that Friday late shopping; it was so crowded in the food stores at the last minute.
"A lot of people get paid late on Friday, and that was the reason why people would flock to the food stores that evening. Then we find ourselves leaving out of here late trying to beat curfew. So with Saturday shopping, that is going to take a lot of pressure off of us now. We appreciate the Competent Authority for doing that."
Mr Rolle said much stress was being placed on the company and his employees on Fridays because “they had to be paid for their lunch hour. We couldn’t take lunch hours because of the constant traffic. Once you see customers start coming in at around 2pm that’s it until 7pm. Saturday shopping is going to take a lot of stress off of us. Thank God for that.
“What was happening was that we were being supplied by our suppliers, so we had people that would work the shelves constantly all day. It was pressure on them, so now that we have this extra Saturday people can basically return to a sense of normalcy where you can take your lunch hours and don’t have to be pushing all day to keep the shelves stocked," he added.
“It probably wasn’t clear to us that when they changed the curfew from 7pm to 5am, we didn’t know that you actually could have come and stocked the shelves on Saturday and Sunday. We didn’t even know that until I actually checked with the Office of the Prime Minister and I saw it. So now that he publicly announced it that Sunday we can stock shelves, we are going to be okay.”
Mr Rolle said before the pandemic he typically opened on weekends. "Sundays we had shorter shopping hours. We opened up at about 7am on Sundays, and by 5pm we are closed," he added.
As for why the Government has not permitted Sunday shopping yet, Mr Rolle said: “I think there may be a strategy with not opening on Sundays, and also with the [weekend] curfew being from 6pm to 5am.
"I think they are still watching the cases. I think he is taking advice from the medical health professionals and it may be a strategy to still monitor the cases. So with the food stores being closed on Sunday it may help. Then you have shorter shopping hours on Saturday as well, so Saturday’s the stores close at 5pm. Normally stores are closed at 9pm on Saturday. So it is a strategy for health reasons I suspect.”
Atwell Ferguson, general manager of the Golden Gates Supermarket, said: “It’s just stretched out now. In other words, there won’t be as much on Friday. What was happening was that there was a lot of rushing on Friday, so there won’t be a lot of lines on Friday. That’s just less stress. The shorter the days, the more packed the stores will be, so with the Saturday now people have more time and less stress.”