Thursday 2 July, 2020

Sales, deals draw crowds to malls on first day of reopening

Pictured: The Long Circular Mall car park was filled to capacity on Monday as the mall reopened for business, as Government continues with its phased reopening of the country. Photo by Nneka Parsanlal.

Pictured: The Long Circular Mall car park was filled to capacity on Monday as the mall reopened for business, as Government continues with its phased reopening of the country. Photo by Nneka Parsanlal.

Despite a slow start to business on Monday morning, malls and retail stores reported a steady flow of shoppers coming to their establishments throughout the day.

Malls, retail outlets and bookstores were among businesses reopened on Monday as phase three of Government’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions got underway.

Many of these businesses were closed for the last two months as only essential services and businesses were allowed to operate in keeping with measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking with Loop News, retailers said they were glad to be reopened and offer their services to the public.

Long Circular Mall and Trincity Mall, operated by the HCL Group of Companies, were abuzz with activity.

At Long Circular, shoppers had no choice but to make several spins to try to find a parking spot as the car park was filled to capacity.

Marketing Officer Lisa Young Wing said most stores have been reopened with many of them offering sales and deals. She described business at Trincity Mall as “pretty busy” for the first day of reopening.

With the return of the public service to work, she said several clothing and shoe stores reopened with these workers in mind with as much as 50 percent off discounts being offered.

She assured customers that health and safety protocols are in place at stores with Plexiglas installed at several points of sale and in-store sanitising protocols to keep customers safe.

The mall’s health and safety personnel are also working with some of the smaller tenants to help develop and implement the same protocols so that they will be able to reopen soon.

Young Wing said the feedback from the mall’s security personnel on shoppers’ compliance with the wearing of masks has indicated that it’s been without issue thus far, but she still appealed to customers to work with store owners to ensure social distancing guidelines and other hygiene protocols are upheld.

“We know people are anxious and looking forward to their favourite stores reopening, but we want to appeal to them to observe these protocols and wear their masks,” she added.

Meanwhile, Nigel Khan of Nigel R Khan Bookseller said he was heartened by the customer response throughout the bookstore chain’s closure and with their reopening on Monday.

He said while traffic was a bit slow at their mall locations on its first day of reopening, customers flocked to their street stores to stock up on books and other supplies.

Khan said he believes things will get back on track in terms of pre-COVID sales, and anticipated an even greater rush by the weekend.

He assured that the stores’ 11 locations are well-prepared to receive customers, boasting of protocols in place to continue operating safely.

“We were ahead of the curve. We formulated COVID-19 protocols well before other establishments had anything in place. We were more or less prepared for this.”

In terms of social distancing guidelines, Khan said there is a limit on how many customers are allowed into the store at any given time. The limit is based on each location’s square footage, with the smallest stores having a limit of 20 customers, and a 50-customer limit in place at the larger locations.

He encouraged customers to come out and shop, noting that the booksellers’ Distribuition Centre is up and running. He assured that the stores will all be “100 percent” by Tuesday evening.

Payless ShoeSource Country Manager for Trinidad and Tobago, Jerus Mohammed, said all preparations have been made for the stores’ reopening across the country on Tuesday.

He said customers came out to the stores anticipating that they would be open for business on Monday, but were met with closed doors as “finishing touches” had to be put in place to ensure the safety of staff and customers alike.  

When customers visit Payless stores on Tuesday they can expect fully sanitised stores and protocols in keeping with guidelines set out by public health officials.

“What we’ve been doing is ensuring some final touches are put in place, including the sanitising of the stores and personal protective equipment for associates.

We have extensive measures in place to ensure the protection of staff, and these are full face shields, safety glasses, reusable cloths masks provided, and a handwashing schedule in place.”

Mohammed said hand sanitiser dispensers and disposable gloves are available for customers’ use throughout the stores.

Payless has also instituted one-way aisles and will limit the number of shoppers allowed into the store at any given time to maintain social distancing protocols.

One thing customers can also expect when they head into stores on Tuesday is deals.

“We will be having a nice kick-off promotion sale which should help boost sales. It’s a way of sort of giving back – we want to help you stretch your dollar,” he said.

Mohammed said Payless was glad to be reopening its doors.

“We are really happy to be back up and running. We are one of the last islands to be reopening tomorrow, but Barbados will also be reopening tomorrow. Other Eastern Caribbean nations have been reopened for some time now.

We are happy to be open to provide an essential service.”

The Payless Country Manager said there were no job losses during the stay-at-home period that saw non-essential businesses closed, adding that that they were able to continue paying staff.

He anticipates a good turnout from customers on Tuesday, having gotten positive feedback from the footwear retailers’ customer base via social media channels.

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