Fruit and food vendors feeling COVID strain
Judith Ross sells fruits from her van on Orange Street in downtown Kingston, but since COVID-19 hit Jamaica, she has been operating at a loss due to low buyer turnouts.
"With COVID, people hardly have nuh money fi buy weh dem want. And the rain a mash up the market so the things dem more expensive. So things worse now. One time me woulda peel all 150 pound a pine a day, and now if me peel a 30 pound, me peel too much," she said.
Before COVID, Ross would be purchasing up to 1,500 pounds of the fruit weekly, but now she can't buy more than 150 pounds.
"Schools not being open make it worse. That kinda affect it more too. Because the students deh home, most sales I would see in early mornings gone," he said. "When it nuh sell, yuh just a fi dash it weh. And I have to be doing that frequently as of recent, because fruits perishable. So all me a fi do sometime a buy less. The profit kinda smaller, but it's better than nothing at all."
Teresa Hudson Whitely, who has been providing hot meals for shoppers and travellers downtown for 30 years, says it's a bitter season.
Have to cheap it out
"Business was even two times better than now since COVID. Me walk out all a Heywood Street and Orange Street. Sometimes me do all a dat and me still nuh finish. And then me a fi gi weh the food," she said. "I have to cheap it out and sell it fi less than weh me fi sell it fah. Me caa just dash it weh. Stew peas a $450 and $500. If evening come and me see she nothing nah see, me a fi drop it to all $200."
But Dr Rosalea Hamilton, consultant economist, says the world is in a recession and it will take time for things to recover financially.
"There is a reduction in demand ... nobody is spending. It will take time to earn, find jobs, or create their own income as people are trying to do now. Even globally there are limited opportunities," she told THE STAR. "The Government can't turn on a switch and say the economy is back. What business and vendors need to recognise is that they have to be innovative and creative at this time when there are a multiplicity of challenges."