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Price cut too close to Christmas

By Rachael Espinet Friday, December 20 2013

While most agreed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Christmas gift of a 20 percent discount on flour, rice and oil on select brands of National Flour Mills (NFM) products for December 23 and 24 was a good idea, grocery owners expressed frustration on the short notice to change the prices.

“We understand what the Prime Minister is trying to achieve, but to bring it at a time like now when all our supermarkets are fully stocked, there will be chaos in trying to bring these prices down,” said Vernon Persad, president of the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT).

When Newsday spoke to Persad after Persad-Bissessar’s announcement yesterday, Persad said he was not informed about how NFM will provide the rebate to supermarkets.

Persad said they were not consulted by the Government or NFM about the price reduction. “The only way there could be a price reduction is if a rebate is provided. But this is too short a notice,” Persad said.

He stated there needs to be a clear marketing campaign that states the products to be discounted so there was no confusion among consumers.

Stephanie Yee, owner of Chung Kiu, a small supermarket on Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain said she did not know how to implement the price reduction on stocks already purchased.

She said Persad-Bissessar “dropped a bombshell” on the supermarkets by announcing the price reduction so close to the dates.

“If the Prime Minister wants to do it, that is really nice to reduce the prices, but how are we going to do it? We are just confused. I don’t understand. I don’t know how to do it,” Yee said.

Yee said she fears she will be “cursed” at for not reducing the prices on December 23 and 24.

“The worst thing is that we are going to get a lot of cuss from the customer. We don’t know how to do it (reduce the prices), and we will get cuss,” she said.

Yee said she was not aware of the rebate she would receive that compensated her for the discount. She stated supermarkets are also consumers as they buy to sell, and a “today for tomorrow” announcement was not feasible for her.

Derek Winford, chief executive officer of Hi-Lo Food Stores said the supermarket chain could not discuss the matter publicly at this time.

Rhea Haywood, who was carefully keeping check of the prices of the items in her basket at Sing Chong Supermarket on Charlotte Street, said while the price reduction was a good idea, it was a disadvantage to persons who already did their shopping.

When asked if she was going to wait until December 23 to buy her flour, oil and rice, she said no and loaded a 10kg Ibis package of flour into her basket. She too thought consumers received little notice on the price reduction.

“I can’t wait. It is an admirable thing, but I can’t get the discount now. It is a disadvantage for people who already bought their groceries. That should have been in place since early December,” Haywood said.





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