Hardly Ever a Sale
One thing that I definitely miss about the U.S. are sale prices.
The whole idea of discounting items to get them to move out the door is one that seems to be foreign to the Jamaican economy.
Items remain on shelves unsold with dust gathering on them, and as the sun discolours the box beyond recognition, the owner refuses to discount them.
I distinctly remember visiting Filene's Basement in Boston. They had prices that varied depending on how long the item had been on the shelves. A tag might look like this:
$100 Jan 1
$75 Jan 15th
$50 Jan 31st
$5 Feb 28th
It is one of the best ideas I have ever seen in retailing, and prompted many smart alecks to try to hide merchandise in odd places in the store, hoping to come back on March 1st with $5 in hand and a bargain afoot.
The idea here was simple -- it is better to have sold an item for something now, rather than nothing later. This is the old idea of the time value of money being taken to an extreme.
However, here in Jamaica, I have not seen a genuine sale... not once. I believe it has something to do with pride.
It looks as if shop owner's cannot get past the fact that they paid $50 for an item, and are therefore absolutely unwilling to sell it for less than they paid. I think it gets personal -- they feel as if they are cheating themselves if they sell the item for less than some psychological amount they believe they "should" get.
Unfortunately, this is bad for business. It is much better to get rid of stuff that won't sell, and replace it with stuff that will. When a buying mistake is made, the best idea is to get over it quickly, and not to allow it to accumulate further costs in terms of shelf space, security, air conditioning, salesperson time, management time, etc.
At some point, every single item in every store accumulates enough costs to make it economically worthless, and it should be tossed away.
And this, just about, never ever happens here.