Local retailers and manufacturers say to date the Christmas shopping season has been slow.

At least one of the major players in the retail trade is bemoaning the disappointing sales returns to date, noting that there’s been no improvement in business conditions this Christmas season compared to last year.

The merchants says demand continues to be subdued, as consumers grapple with the tough economic conditions.

Many retailers, small businesses and vendors depend on the Christmas season to generate sufficient sales to cover the slow performance and even losses they experience throughout much of the year.

Megamart is one of the country’s largest retail chains.

Its Chairman and CEO, Gassan Azan, is painting a very bleak picture of Christmas sales so far this year.

Deputy President of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association, Metry Seaga, says his business, Jamaica Fibreglass Products Limited, is doing slightly better this year.

But he says that’s only because he’s not been as focused on the local market as he was last year.

Meanwhile, General Manager of the Hi-Lo Food Stores, Oral Richards, is in a more upbeat mode.

He says patrons began their Christmas shopping late this year.

Mr. Richards says all food items have begun to see increased sales.

He says these sales have been helped by the chain’s newly refurbished store.