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Step toward 24-hour stores

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Step toward 24-hour stores

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Vice-president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Eddie Abed has suggested that retailers may gradually move towards 24-hour operations.
Speaking last Tuesday during a news briefing on the Thursday Nights Live . . . In The City event which will see Bridgetown stores staying open until 9 p.m., he said this one-day extension was a small step in that direction.
He pointed out that locals and visitors were demanding more convenience.
“This is 2013 and what drives consumers today is convenience and as responsible retailers [and] distributors, we need to attract our customers. We need to stay relevant to our customers,” he said during the event at the Colonnade Mall on Broad Street.
As retail operations struggle in the difficult economic climate, Abed said “everything” was on the table.
“As we grow we need to understand that we must look at everything and come up with a decision that is best for everyone’s interest,” he added.
“Nothing as far as the retailers are concerned has been decided or set in stone as yet so what’s important is this is a step in the right direction.” 
Abed said extending business hours would be a learning process since Barbadians had become accustomed to eight-hour days.
Thursday Nights Live will run until September 12, at which point it will be reviewed.
About 75 to 80 per cent of the stores in Bridgetown will open late during the initiative which will include music, cultural presentations and other forms of entertainment.
Abed said those outlets which had opted not to participate were generally unable to do so.
“Many of the stores are mom and pop operations and the flexibility or lack of flexibility is their greatest challenge. People have commitments beyond 5:30 p.m. and to be able to get the store manned from six to nine is their largest challenge.
“We’re hoping like everything else, once competition is doing it, then [they’re going to have to do it and they will make other arrangements,” he said.
Owner of Henrietta’s Closet Henrietta Boyce urged fellow small businesspeople to find ways to get involved.
“Do not always step aside and say that ‘I cannot do’. Put some type of measure in place because if the bigger parties in Bridgetown are trying, it also will benefit you,” she advised. (NB)