(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — The declining store count at Trincity Mall has raised fears among the remaining tenants over their survival as they say even though the Christmas season is here, the customers are not.
Around this time of the year, the hallways to Trincity Mall are usually decked with Christmas decorations and eager shoppers. Today, several of the glass storefronts are wrapped with paper but, they may not be opening any time soon.
Since the beginning of COVID-19 restriction measures in March, several stores have shut their doors.
Kurleigh Ross, the owner of K Ross Designs at Trincity Mall, told Guardian Media the reality is becoming more glaring. When asked how he felt to look around his kiosk and see so many closed stores, Ross sighed.
“It is really frightening to see and you always wonder when might be your turn,” he lamented during an interview with Guardian Media yesterday.
He said it has been an uphill battle for him to keep the lights on since the start of the pandemic. This as he explained his business relies on events, which has been prohibited under the public health regulations.
“There was nothing really happening in the last few months and that is really what my business is about so I would do sport and family days, I will do uniforms and that kind of stuff so obviously if there is a lockdown there is nothing happening,” he said.
Expressing relief that he has made it this far into the year, Ross said, “It is getting better as we go into the Christmas Season.”
Sarah Mohammed, who owns Amelia’s Floral Design and Home Decor located on the northern wing of the mall, admitted she is also worried.
“We have been trying and working very hard and the management of Trincity Mall has been assisting us in whatever way they can thus far,” she stated.
She added, “We are scared for our business at this time and I am scared but we are working very hard.”
With just over a month to go before the holidays, she said people are still not coming to the mall.
Economist, Vaalmiki Arjoon, believes while COVID-19 has had its impact, the existence of all shopping centres is really being threatened by online shopping.
“I think as time goes by, within the next few years, more and more retailers are going to realise their survival hinges on them adopting this practice as well. It is, of course, going to mean the real estate market when it comes to commercial space is going to take a hit,” according to Arjoon.
He also noted it is cheaper to operate an online store than rent a space at the mall.
“Globally, what many businesses have started to do is have their own storage space to keep their inventories and have an online business so that people place orders online,” Arjoon said.
Both Ross and Mohammed admitted they have noticed an increase in online customers but believe the need for an actual store still exists.