(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Three months after closing, shopping malls across South Trinidad opened for the first time on Monday but there were no throngs of people waiting to buy.
Compared to South Park and C3 Shopping Centre, the Gulf City Mall appeared to have the most customers up to 1 pm.
Many stores at South Park were still closed with only a few shoppers, while C3 Centre had just a few dozen customers.
Even though specialist disinfectant services were completed on the Gulf City Mall on Sunday, there was still some last-minute maintenance works in progress.
Peter Singh, a director of PSIT Solutions and his team were seen cleaning AC vents, ducts and automatic door entrances. Singh said it was routine work which took place on a continuous basis.
“We clean here all the time. We will be here for the entire day making sure that everything is ok,” he said. Singh said he did not think the opening of the malls should have been done so soon.
“My personal opinion is that its a little too early but if people follow guidelines and wear masks, (use) hand sanitisers and practice their social distancing, we should be ok,” he added.
He said there was a ruptured main on Sunday but it was repaired and the fountain was back to normal with clean gushes of water.
Some stores such as Payless Shoe Source was closed much to the chagrin of some shoppers.
Joseph Victor and his wife Elizabeth told Guardian Media that they left their Point Fortin home to buy a pair of work boots for Victor at the mall but the Payless store was closed. A sign was stuck on the door informing people that it will open on June 2.
Owner of Torry Hosein Store, Vidal Hosein, said he expected more customers.
“We are trying to attract customers with ongoing sales of house clothes. We are trying to encourage people to shop but offering deals such as buy one get another free.
“People are now getting accustomed to the malls being open so not very many people have come to so far,” Hosein said.
At the C3 Centre, most of the stores were open but many were empty with the exception of the Digicel Store and Wonderful World.
Store manager Kavita Sawh said she was happy that the mall was open. She said the store is withholding service from anyone without a mask.
“We are very happy to be back out to work and for this morning we have had a nice flow with people following all the guidelines. The mall doesn’t allow anyone in who are not wearing masks so we had no problems so far,” she added.
There were also a few customers at Optometrists Today as well as in the RIK Bookstores.
Meanwhile, at SouthPark Mall, there was a line outside the JMMB Bank. Most of the stores were devoid of people. A mall worker said: “People don’t seem to realise that the mall is open. Maybe it might pick up later in the day.”
Meanwhile, on High Street and Cipero Street, business was also slow.
Vice President of the San Fernando Business Association, Dave Tickersingh, said there were over 10,000 people jobless and he did not anticipate an increase in sales.
“We will be facing a few tough years, the economies of the world have dropped tremendously. We hope people will shop sensibly and wear a mask so they will be safe and others will be safe,” he added.
On High Street, vendors expressed relief that stores were finally open.
Sadesh Soodeensingh said: “I thank God for opening today. Those past few months were really tough,” he said.
Owner of Avinash Jewellers and Laxmi Jewellers said they brought out a full complement of staff. However, they said they will be monitoring sales to determine whether they could sustain a full team of staff.