Business interests in central Clarendon are projecting a positive sales outlook in the lead-up to Christmas despite a rash of murders triggering a major police-military operation since last Friday.
The epicentre of the midweek violence was Effortville, where five murders were committed over 24 hours as a dispute reportedly sparked by a dispute over a motorcycle boiled over.
Security forces flooded Effortville and flanked its outskirts late Friday as a 96-hour curfew took effect. It is scheduled to run 5 p.m.-5 a.m. daily until Tuesday.
However, the crackdown is not expected to cause a fall-off in sales because its scope does not extend deeply beyond the boundaries of Effortville.
President of the May Pen Chamber of Commerce, Winsome Witter, is cautiously optimistic. She said that one retailer had already reported joy at seeing persons coming out to shop on the last weekend before Christmas.
Mayor of May Pen, Winston Maragh, is also anticipating that the security surge will not put a damper on the spirits of Christmas-time shoppers. He is urging householders in Effortville to come out early to shop in the Clarendon capital, so they can beat the curfew deadline of 5 p.m. to head back home.
“What has been happening is between two gangs up in the Effortville area, from what I am hearing, so I doubt it will have much effect,” Maragh told The Gleaner.
“In fact, it should have very little effect on business in the town.”
Thursday, Christmas Eve, will be the highly anticipated Grand Market shopping day, and the Clarendon Municipal Corporation has already made plans for the event. Maragh said that extra space has been secured on Bryant’s Crescent.
Vendors have been warned that they will not be allowed to hawk on the town’s main street, as the corporation has secured accommodation on the grounds of the old police station.
“Grand Market is definitely on and will close off at 9 p.m.,” he said.
The Christmas Eve curfew takes effect at 10 p.m., while commuters must be off the streets on Christmas Day by 7 p.m.