(Guyana Guardian) – In despite of an obviously expanded police presence in the streets of Georgetown, and the proverbial singing by the government that its’ recently presented 2017 budget would immediately begin to stimulate economic growth, many business operators in central Georgetown are seemingly dancing to a different tune.

For most of them, when compared to the last five years, sales for the 2017 Christmas season has so far been very sluggish as a visibly dwindled number of shoppers have been traversing the main shopping district in central Georgetown.

Ask to provide their perceived reasons for the sluggish sales ‘spell’, almost every business operator that was interviewed lay the blame squarely on an apparent increase in violent robberies, and possible hoarding by shoppers who are bracing for some budget negatives that might hit them from January 2017.

From concerns over new taxes on water and electricity, to now having to pay VAT on previously non-taxable commodities, most shoppers are of the view that the cost of living will rise dramatically in 2017. Hence, business owners are convinced that many shoppers are now curtailing their holiday spending in an effort to reserve cash for an expected increase on the tag for their groceries, utilities, and other affected commodities.

But while the reduced spending power of shoppers seems to be their primary concern, many others also expressed their frustration over the new bare-face nature of violent robberies that are in the air, with businessmen now being targeted in broad daylight and even with impunity within the sanctity of their secured homes.

For them, bare-face crimes are gradually becoming the order of the day, and is also supposedly driving a heighten amount of fear into prospective shoppers who are now seemingly afraid of taking large amounts of cash into the city for shopping.

And even though the Guyana Police Force has released statistics which shows that there was a reduction in violent crimes, the city business community are not buying into those numbers at all.

But in despite of the apparent string of negativities that they have expressed to the Guyana Guardian, they are still hoping that this new shopping week before Christmas would be crime free, which they suffice can trigger a break from the sluggish sales spell and thus making up for the losses that they would have had to content with so far, for the season.