ADMID ALL THE EXCITEMENT and show of nationalism regarding Barbados’ 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, Barbadians must acknowledge a certain reality.
Independence celebrations in coming years could easily be overtaken by factors beyond our shores. November 30 may become just another day.
Yes, the birthday of National Hero Charles Duncan O’Neal and St Andrew’s Day may lose a lot of its significance because of what the Mighty Gabby called “cultural penetration” from North America.
It is the result of Black Friday, which is catching on and will likely get bigger in Barbados. The crowds outside Cost-U-Less at 5 a.m. on Friday looking for a bargain told a story. So too did the people who crowded into Courts and Abed’s on Friday and Saturday.
The same was true of Massy and all the other places which got deep into what is an American invention now gone global.
People don’t mind being loyal to Barbados and things Barbadian, but they also want a break to get away from some of the never-ending high prices they must endure at home. This is why people found the money, or went for hire purchase to benefit from the big ticket items or the small necessities they want to make life better, at a fair price.
Merchants and retailers have little choice but to respond to today’s customers’ needs, otherwise they will fall by the wayside. The advent of the smartphone and its wonderful capabilities long with other forms of technology makes online shopping oh so easy.
And the promise of duty-free shopping for Barbadians in certain local zones remains just that … an empty promise.
So the public will respond the way they know best; so too will the merchants.
Those critical of the copycat Black Friday approach should consider that it is a good launching pad for the Christmas season; from Independence directly into Christmas. And Barbadians love the festive season.
It also makes sense to do the promotions here – and offer genuine bargains – rather than allow Barbadians to flock uncontested to Fort Lauderdale or Hialeah looking for a bargain.
If what the consumer is looking for is locally available then it avoids the hassle at North America airports, cuts down on the airlines’ efforts to frustrate passengers with all sorts of fees and most importantly helps keep some foreign currency at home.
Barbadians must, of course, travel to different lands to look, learn and return with new ideas, but overseas travel for shopping could be curtailed.
Barbadians remain patriotic and love Independence, but they also know who and what they must put first.
The Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry has not published details on any research on how the exit of Barbadians to the US for shopping has impacted local business. The absolute surge in the barrel trade does, however, give a clear indication.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are here and don’t expect them to go away. The competition for that share of the wallet is intense. This is why local businesspeople must respond. The data models must guide them as must dynamic pricing.
Incorporating Independence Day in the growing commercial events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the traditional Christmas season is going to be a must in the future.
It calls only for a bit of creativity.