Shoppers in pre-poll hustle

Stabroek News
March 18, 2001

It was mostly hustle and bustle in Georgetown yesterday as shoppers grabbed last-minute purchases to stock up before polling day tomorrow.

The election season more often than not raises the anxiety of residents of Region Four where the capital city and the largest voting district are found.

It was more business than usual for grocery and meat stalls in the Bourda and Stabroek markets and the supermarkets around the city.

Bibi Khan, proprietrix of a halaal meat centre on Robb Street, described her experience yesterday as "panic buying."

She said all her meat and fish were sold out before 1000 hrs yesterday.

"It's panic shopping. Sales jumped up today. People were actually rocking down my store for foodstuff," Khan told this newspaper.

Even meat she was keeping for her household had to be sold to customers who appeared frantic when they saw the stocks diminishing, Khan said.

Khan also operates a restaurant in the same building which houses the meat centre. And customers were not hesitant in buying meat that was already seasoned to cook for the restaurant, the businesswoman stated.

She said the traffic on Robb Street in the vicinity of her store leading to Bourda Market crawled at a snail's pace yesterday morning with the amount of people who were going about their shopping.

Khan had paid her workers since Friday instead of the normal Saturday, so they too could do their shopping before the elections. She said she had advised them that they would work only half-day on Monday and they could use the other half-day to vote. But if there was any sign of trouble brewing, the staff have been advised to stay away from work.

Khan rued the missed opportunity of stocking extra to meet the demand of the consumers yesterday.

But there were other businesses who exploited the shopping spree to up prices for basic items. Chicken, at some retail outlets which previously went for $140 per pound was raised to $160. Potatoes and onions also went up in other areas.

At C&F Supermarket on Regent Street, business was much brisker than usual.

A manager described the customers added zest as merely a precautionary measure in the event of any post elections incidents.

Some persons had used the less busy days during the week to quietly go about buying what they thought they would need during or after the elections.

A few persons yesterday said they were just picking up stuff they had missed when stocking up earlier this week.

But a customer at Stabroek Market who lives in Charlestown said he and his wife were just doing the usual rounds in the market. He saw no need to buy extra goods.