Back to school shopping this weekend has more to do with a shortage of textbooks, and the recession, than Trinidadians’ habit of doing things last minute, a leading Port of Spain seller said yesterday.
The economic downturn has led publishers to reduce the number of textbooks they print, which means there are fewer to sell, said Kelvin Khan, managing director of Ishmael M Khan and Sons Ltd.
“Books are scarce as publishers don’t know how many books to print.
As such they are printing less than the required amount because things are tight with our economy. The scarcity of books makes people hurry to get them,” Khan said as shoppers crowded the Henry Street store. People also buy school supplies when they can afford to, Khan said, observing that many customers live pay cheque to pay cheque and month end is when most have money to spend.
“Things are tight but today sales have picked up tremendously,” added Khan.
Shoppers even came from Tobago, to buy school supplies for their children.
A couple commented they came to Trinidad to get certain books for their child which were not available in some Tobago bookstores. Calls to several bookstores including Books and Office Supplies, Nelson’s Bookstore, Gumbs Book Store and Elite Book Store, all based in Tobago, went unanswered. However, some shoppers felt the crowds represent the usual rush before school reopens after the two-month vacation. “There is a huge rush as usual when school is opening less than two days away, all I am shopping for today is stationery,” said Merle Nicholson from Diego Martin. People lined the pavements, some even standing in the road, in search of cheap deals from vendors on vests, socks and belts.
“People are now starting to rush for school items especially vests and socks, so this Saturday is very busy,” said Hollwin O’Brian a street vendor from Diego Martin.
Vendor Nola Wilson, who lives in Morvant, agreed.
“People are looking for bargains at this final hour,” she said smiling.
Department stores, such as Detour, also set up displays outside their store fronts to attract more customers.