Black Friday gaining traction here

Brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore are offering deals during the American shopping bonanza because it boosts their businesses

Black Friday, the annual American retail shopping bonanza, is gaining traction in Singapore, especially among major brick-and-mortar outlets here.

This year, the sale will be held tomorrow.

Department store Robinsons will slash prices by up to 80 per cent tomorrow at all three of its stores here.

It will also be opening earlier - at 7am instead of the usual 10.30am - the first time it is doing this since 2014, when it started participating in Black Friday.

Its spokesman, who described the sale as a "novel yet very successful shopping concept", says that it has attracted an increasing number of shoppers to Robinsons year-on-year.

At furniture retailer Courts, the first Black Friday sales it had in 2013 had takings that were double that of a regular Friday, with sales "steadily growing since", says country chief executive officer of Courts Singapore, Mr Stan Kim.

The chain is offering the Courts Black Friday Priority Pass for the first time this year, which lets 280 shoppers who have pre-registered, skip the queue and get access to exclusive discounts.

The chain will have deals of up to 80 per cent off at all its 14 outlets here, as well as on its online store.

Metro, too, is participating for the second time this year as it is "a good opportunity to capture ready consumers who are in the mood to shop for the (Christmas) season", says Mr Erwin Oei, its head of business analytics.

Other physical stores, such as Sephora, Harvey Norman, TopShop, Karen Millen, Dorothy Perkins, Warehouse and G2000, are also participating this year.

Local e-commerce sites, such as home-grown brand Beyond The Vines' online store, are jumping on the bandwagon for the second time this year.

Singapore-based and online marketplace Qoo10 will also offer deals on the back of a successful Black Friday run last year.

Across the United States, the annual shopping frenzy celebrated on the day after Thanksgiving attracts millions of bargain hunters who form lines at stores and occasionally get into shopping-related brawls.

According to Reuters, shoppers in the US spent about US$10.4 billion (S$14.8 billion) in stores on Black Friday last year.

There are no official figures for the sale's takings here, but experts who have noticed the increase in participation say it is a good thing.

Singapore Retailers Association president R. Dhinakaran says: "During this tough retail market, any sale event like Black Friday is a good thing and is a significant driver of sales growth."

Thrice the fun

Getting the most out of Black Friday is a three-person job, going by the efforts of avid shoppers Magdalene Yeow, 25, Wong Xun Lin, 24, and Lin Shu Fen, 26, who team up to milk the 24-hour sale period.

Each is allotted one or two online stores to "survey" for worthwhile discounts, collating lists of items to buy before the start of the sale.

Once it begins, the women hit the ground running to buy everything on their lists, keeping in contact with one another via WhatsApp in case any flash deals catch their interest.

"This means that orders are made quickly so that what we want is not out of stock," says Ms Yeow, a content marketing manager. "We are also making bigger purchases at each store, so we usually get free shipping."

The trio met last year as colleagues at local online shopping rewards portal ShopBack and started shopping together when Ms Wong noticed that one of her favourite online stores, Los Angeles-based site, was having a Black Friday sale with up to 50 per cent discounts.

To meet the requirement for free delivery, she roped in Ms Yeow and Ms Lin, who are also content marketing managers.

Shipping to Singapore typically costs between $15 and $25 a package. The women ended up buying about 10 items from the site.

This modus operandi was used for other sites including and, and they spent about $1,600 last year on about 80 items.

These included a skincare set that cost about $180, down from $300, and a pair of Adidas shoes for $50, down from $150.

A trick, they say, is to sign up for e-mail newsletters from choice websites to get reminders of when the sales start and for promotion codes.

They use mobile app Splitwise, which tracks who pays for what and how much is owed to whom.

They also buy through online cashback platform Shopback to get rebates of up to 30 per cent and make sure to use any credit card promotions.

Besides getting the discounts, teaming up is also more fun.

Ms Wong says: "It's exciting shopping together because we tell one another about good deals."

Bachelor shops through the night

Communications executive Bryan Goh, 24, takes Black Friday seriously.

Last year, he took a day off work and stayed up all night armed with an Excel spreadsheet of the starting times of the sale at the 11 stores he wanted to shop at. An alarm clock was set to ring for each store, prompting him to switch sites.

The bachelor says: "I started at around 1am and shopped throughout the night. I took leave on Friday to rest."

The avid shopper started shopping on Black Friday in 2013 after a friend introduced him to a website (, which sent him a list of stores participating in the sale.

"It was just a downward spiral from there," he says.

When asked how much he spends during the single-day sale period, he quips: "It is a repressed memory."

However, he adds that he tries not to spend more than $1,500.

His best Black Friday buy was a pair of Chloe boots that cost him $700, down from $1,800.

He also used last year's sale to shop for Christmas presents for his friends - 15 monogrammed bathrobes from a Victoria's Secret flash sale at US$20 (S$28.50) each.

Each robe typically costs US$60.

Other purchases he has made during the sale period include crockery, bed sheets, leather jackets and luggage.

Shoppers, he says, should narrow their sights to three or four of their favourite stores to keep their budget manageable and to cut down on impulse buying.

This year, he has set a $1,000 budget and plans to buy a memory foam pillow from

"I've been waiting for four months to buy it. I'm hoping to get at least 60 to 70 per cent off."

Stocking up for wedding

Avid shopper Sara Ann Krishnamoorthy bought close to 60 items on Black Friday last year - four pairs of thigh-high boots, more than 10 dresses and 20 pairs of socks.

The 37-year-old, who has been shopping on Black Friday for more than a decade, spent about $500.

The sale, she says, is a good time to snag previously unaffordable items.

The professional emcee, whose wedding is planned for July next year, bought a pre-owned Alexander McQueen bag two years ago for $280, down from $1,500.

This year, she plans to shop through the night to get good deals for her upcoming wedding, including a crop top from American label Vera Wang currently priced at $180. She is expecting the price to drop to about $120 tomorrow.

To ease the process this year, she is using the services of local start-up ShopandBox, which has paired her with a boxer - a personal shopper to help her buy sale items at online and brick-and-mortar stores in the United States, check for defects and repackage items into cost-efficient parcels to ship to Singapore.

For the service, Ms Krishnamoorthy, who has already given her boxer a list of 20 items, will be paying a fee of about 10 per cent of her total order.

This also means her Black Friday haul will get to her in under two weeks, faster than other parcel-forwarding postal services, which can take up to a month.

She says: "I haven't completed my shopping list yet. I'm still browsing things to add on."

10 places to check out in Singapore

1) Robinsons

All three stores - at The Heeren, Raffles City and Jem - will open at 7am tomorrow with up to 80 per cent off storewide.

The stores will also have hourly specials and purchase-with-purchase promotions.

2) Sephora

The 11 outlets islandwide will offer a storewide discount of 20 per cent for the day.

Its online store here ( will have the same discount.

3) Metro

All three outlets - at Paragon, The Centrepoint and Causeway Point - are having discounts of up to 80 per cent from today to Sunday.

4) G2000 and i.t

From today to Sunday, these brands are slashing 50 per cent off the second item bought for its regular-priced items only.

5) Wallis

Up to 50 per cent off selected items today and tomorrow.

Metro Card members and wt+ members will enjoy an additional 30 per cent off the total bill with a minimum purchase of three pieces.

wt+ is a membership programme under Wing Tai, which is behind Wallis, among other labels.

6) BCBGMAXAZRIA, Karen Millen, Warehouse, Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins (excluding Metro outlets)

Up to 50 per cent off selected items today and tomorrow.

DBS Card members and wt+ members get an additional 30 per cent off the total bill if they buy at least three items.

7) Beyond The Vines

Customers get up to 40 per cent off for some pieces.

The sale will start at midnight tonight and last 24 hours exclusively at its online store (

8) Clinique

Shoppers can create their own four-piece make-up kit for the price of three at all counters in department stores.

9) Zalora

The online retailer will have discounts of up to 70 per cent and an additional 18 per cent off if shoppers use an app-only voucher code.

The sale will last from tomorrow to Monday.

10) Qoo10

From now until Monday, shoppers enjoy discounts of up to 80 per cent on products from more than 1,000 participating merchants.

Customers will also receive coupons with values of up to $100 with minimum purchase orders.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline Black Friday gaining traction here: 10 places to check out in Singapore. Subscribe