Is the consumer king?

It is the first time in many months that I missed communicating with my readers. It happened last week and I sincerely apologise. Certain things about life are never in our hands, especially if one seeks to live life to the full. I thought that by being no longer President of S.L.I.S.B.A. would have left me with the opportunity to stop, assess my commitments in relation to how I spend my time and move forward, but no, it was not to be that way. I found myself involved in the launching of the National Working Committee On Trade (N.W.C.T.) and attending the Conference of N.G.Os., sponsored by OXFAM and the Caribbean Policy Development Center (C.P.D.C.). Then there was the Barbados Trade Mission sponsored by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (B.I.D.C.) which was very successful. The members of the Mission expressed gratitude to my team and I and noted that they were well received by the business community.

The members of the Mission who traveled to Vieux-Fort were impressed with the level of investments in the construction sector. They were impressed with the presence of well established Hardware businesses in the area. Many orders were received and Representatives plan to make follow-up visits shortly. The Mission moved on to Grenada for their final stop on a two country, one week Business Trip.

The Small Business Sector is bouncing back. I was very impressed with the Wholesalers in the Castries basin that I visited with Representatives participating in the Mission. Dilly’s Wholesale and Supermarket are holding their own and plans to expand. It was the Wholesale Section that attracted me as I observed the offerings and prices. I am impressed and plan to do some shopping there. Small businesses that make such a bold effort must be supported.

I noticed that the Consumer Movement represented by Regional and International Advocates met in St. Lucia this week. There is a lot to be done by the Movement here in St. Lucia. As a priority, a Shopping Guide should be introduced drawing attention to availability and prices of essential consumer items. This approach will drive consumers to seek to purchase at prices which will guarantee savings, as every penny counts. Consumers must also be sensitized to the need to use cash and keep away from credit. I feel sorry for those consumers who lack negotiating skills. I have made this point before and it is worth repeating – that the time has come for a fair pricing store. Sales and Discounts only add grief to consumers who are not fortunate to make purchases when there is a sale or special discount. Don’t be discouraged, you can get bargains in every business, all it takes is patience to strike at the appropriate time.

In today’s business environment you cannot be in a haste to do business. You must give yourself time. I do hope that a Return Policy will be introduced. If not satisfied you should be able to return the goods purchased within a special time period, at least seven days.

The citizens, especially the poor must be given a better deal. In the meantime, it takes patience. Do not be ashamed to go into a store, check prices and leave without making a purchase. You must undertake in your own interest, price and quality surveys. Price is not every thing, you must take quality into consideration as well. In many cases following price blindly can make you a strong contributor to the Garbage Dump.

Whether it is recognized or not by those who are most vulnerable, consumers can be in control and the developments of recent times have given us a real opportunity to discriminate in favor of those businesses which are in our best interest. Our principal objective is to get more for less. It was a blessing when a local businessperson was able to enter the market with prices that shocked the competition and was able to sustain them. It is time the Ministry Of Commerce mounts a strong promotional campaign to establish St. Lucia as the shopping destination of the Eastern Caribbean. The playing field is now set to give consumers the advantage. However, we must now apply patience, seeking out the Best Buys. St. Lucia has good deals in several areas and the citizens of the region need to know this.

Where as the Consumer is not yet King - We surely can!
Keep the Faith!!