Supermarkets report mixed Easter bun sales

SOME supermarket operators say they are experiencing a decline in bun sales while others are seeing an increase, when compared to last year, as the nation observes a second Easter holiday during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Jamaican Easter bun is a descendant of the hot cross bun from Britain. These buns were traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross symbolising the crucifixion of Jesus. The tradition made its way to Jamaica when Britain colonised the island in the mid-1600s.

The annual religious holiday, which is observed as a time for commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sees thousands of Jamaicans purchasing bun and cheese as a way of maintaining the old British tradition, and has been a major business at Easter time.

However, some supermarket operators said they have seen a dent in bun sales.

Judith Johnson, manager at Sampars Supermarket at Cross Roads, Kingston 5, was among those who are experiencing a decrease in Easter bun sales.

“Sales are not as good as last year. We are seeing a decrease now and I am not really sure of what is happening with the customers. Maybe they haven’t made their decisions to purchase buns as yet,” she told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

According to Johnson, bun sales have decreased by approximately 10 per cent when compared to last year, but she was hoping for more sales on Holy Thursday.

“I am hoping that on Holy Thursday there will be an increase in sales as I didn’t order any more buns,” she said.

The Observer spotted a few customers picking up Easter buns from the shelves in Sampars Supermarket, who said they were only buying buns to celebrate the holiday.

Seventy-year-old Isoline Hendricks said, “I just get some money and think to buy a likkle bun for my Easter. It is usually this time I buy buns cause I am diabetic so I don’t eat them often,” she said while clutching a large Easter bun.

Twenty-nine-year-old Daniel Hanchard said he was purchasing a bun for his family. “I am not a bun lover, but it is Easter so I am just buying a bun for the house,” he said, as he observed the different brands that were available.

Shoppers Delight supermarket Manager Althea Morgan also said that bun sales dropped by approximately 10 per cent.

Morgan added that she is a bit sceptical about future sales, as the country approaches its second of three weekend lockdowns announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness last week.

“Not a lot of customers are buying buns, so there will definitely be a decrease in sales,” she said. I think for the first weekend lockdown we saw a spike in the sale of buns on Friday. I don’t know what the other weekend lockdowns will bring, so we have to hope that things will turn around,” she said earlier this week.

Assistant manager at Brooklyn Supermarket, Jolisa Smith, who shared a similar concern, said: “People are buying buns but not as much as they did last year. It would be a bit early to tell if there will be a decrease because we are not at the Easter weekend. For now sales are okay, but am really expecting a lot more sales.”

“We are bracing for this weekend, since we are going to be closed for three days, as a lot of Jamaicans buy things at the last minute,” she added.

Meanwhile, supervisor at Loshusan Supermarket in St Andrew, Verona Haughton, said she has seen an increase in sales.

“It is really busy just like last year, so we are still on for our tradition. There is an increase as the buns are really going; people are buying the different brands. We are still maintaining the tradition of Easter bun and cheese,” she said.

Haughton said although the pandemic has impacted the sales, there was still a steady increase.

“COVID-19 has impacted the sales but we still have our customers. Some will come and get buns for offices, and other customers who are going to the country would also get some,” said Haughton.

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