Shoppers waits in line to pay for their items during the Balck Friday sale at PriceSmart, La Romaine, yesterday.

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Black Friday sales were dismal in some parts of south Trinidad on Friday, as business owners could not offer the bargains of the pre-pandemic years.

At High Street, San Fernando, JD’s Exclusive offered a 33.3 per cent bargain and strict COVID-19 protocols were followed. Protocols were also strict at the Sascha Store, where only five people were allowed in at a time.

Security officers were seen at the entrance of stores and only masked customers were allowed in.

But while smaller retail stores offered discounts, there was hardly any rush for bargains.

At PriceSmart in La Romain, customers bought electronics and small appliances.

Customer Robin Indarsingh said, “We are taking advantage of the prices, which were very good.”

Cherryann Leacock, of Fyzabad, said, “I was waiting on this sale and I came today. It was $3,000 I paid for a 50-inch (TV), you can’t go wrong with this price.”

But while shoppers took advantage of the sales at PriceSmart, the retail stores did not get anticipated increases in sales.

Greater San Fernando Chamber of Industry and Commerce president Kiran Singh said this was not surprising due to the state of the economy.

“Thanksgiving typically starts the busy Christmas shopping season. We expect some slight uptake in retail sales throughout the economy but unfortunately, it won’t be on par with the pre-pandemic period sales levels because of the pandemic. We don’t expect to see an improvement in sales,” Singh said.

He said with the removal of VAT, he expected a reduction in food prices.

Confederation of Business Chambers coordinator Jai Leladharsingh also painted a gloomy picture for sales.

“It is anticipated that sales will remain slow. It is slow because of the rising cost of international freight from US$3,000 to US$19,000, also the whole issue of availability of disposable income by consumers, which is now less. Also, people are prioritising their spend and they are focusing on foodstuff rather than convenient goods,” he said.

He said businesses would love to offer discounts but because of the high shipping costs, they could not.