By Fay Simmons
Tribune Business Reporter
RETAILERS yesterday said business is "booming" as sales of Independence Day-related merchandise accelerate in the run-up to The Bahamas' 50th anniversary celebrations.
Eldica Gittens, floor manager at Home Fabrics, said consumers began purchasing Independence Day items late last year in anticipation of low stock volumes prior to the holiday.
She said: “Independence sales are going extremely well. Bahamians are definitely gearing up for the 50th anniversary celebration. From Christmas we had persons purchasing decorations and things for independence because they thought that there would be a shortage when that time came.
"But we don't have any shortage. It's a good thing this kind of independence doesn’t come every year because we wouldn’t be able to stock the shelves. It's booming.”
Tamara Cargill, manager at Commonwealth Fabrics, also reported strong early Independence Day sales. She attributed this in part to the multiple events being held by the National Independence Secretariat ahead of the Golden Jubilee.
"Sales are going very well for us; we have no complaints. Sales are also picking up a lot earlier. Actually from before CARIFTA, persons have been buying the flag-coloured fabric to wear," Ms Cargill said. "Because there are so many events they're not just buying one, and they're just not buying one time. They’re coming back to get another one and another one, just so they can have something different.”
Dr Cheryl Strachan, Beyond Flags' owner/operator, said that due to an increase in events in general it was hard to say if the sales rise is due to persons seeking Independence-related items.
She said: “In our case, we sell these items all year-long and we cater to whatever's going on during the year. For instance, there are lots of graduations going on now. People are travelling and meeting with relatives in the United States or Canada; wherever they're going. And so they are buying items to take to their families and friends. So technically we cannot say that it is due to Independence.
“It's difficult to say at this time because we’re selling all year-long. We don't just do this for independence. Any time during the year, you're able to come into the store and purchase the same items that are available during the Independence period because we don't put dates on our items.
"But this year we have commemorative shirts and commemorative flags for the 50th... commemorative banners, things like that. But other than that, everything else is not dated. So they sell all year-long. So we are not your typical Independence store.”
Dr Strachan said some clients are coming in to purchase items earlier than usual in anticipation of empty shelves as the Independence holiday nears.
She added: “It was just one major Clifford Park event and the people's rush right after the flag-raising ceremony in years past. So there are persons who are coming in early because they're saying they don't want to be a part of the rush or they don't want to be left out of a certain item.
"They want to get it ahead of time to make sure that it's still available in case they come later and it's not available. We are a dedicated shop. This is all we do, all year-long, no matter the occasion. This is our core business. Maybe it will increase as we get nearer to the date. But so far it's really hard to tell because there's so many other things going on.”