Bavita Gopaulchan

It was a year unlike any other but the tradition of last-minute Christmas shopping did not change yesterday as scores of people bustled through the streets of Port of Spain to check off their list.

The masks were on, the wallets were out and so were the police officers as they strolled through the streets in their numbers with guns pressed to their chests, looking on as shoppers dashed in and out of the various stores.

One shopper told Guardian Media she purposely leaves her shopping for the last minute so that she can feel the excitement of the season. She admitted that her excitement was overpowered by her anxiety this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in place.

“I am very uneasy and unsafe because it is a lot of people in town right now and everybody just bumping into one another and some people not even wearing their masks”, the shopper said.

Another shopper, Anthon Roberts, told Guardian Media even though he does not like being in crowded spaces especially because of the pandemic, he felt normal. According to him, most shoppers, including himself, were adhering to the Public Health Regulations.

This was the year Francesca Johnson said she was hoping to ‘wrap up’ her Christmas list early to avoid the crowds. However, she was unsuccessful.

Some stores owners told Guardian Media they were grateful for the last-minute rush.

“The sales going ok so far, not better than last year”, according to one jewelry store owner. He believes people are focusing their funds on groceries and other necessities this holiday.

The owner of ‘The New and Improve Soho Village’ clothing store said his Christmas spirit was stolen after bandits took off with over $100,000 in items over the weekend.

“The sales not accurate for me because they ended up coming in my place on Saturday into Sunday. They break open my store and take everything in my store so I not having a good Christmas”, Keeda Donald said.

While it was a slow and steady pace for travellers heading in and out of the capital city, it was a very different situation at Khemlani’s Souvenir Shop on Independence Square.

According to Raj Khemlani, “The sales is bad because our business is very tourist-oriented and since the border closure and the pandemic, our business has been almost zero.”