6 things to know about Black Friday sales

Shoppers sprinting into Robinsons The Heeren right after the doors opened during a 2017 Black Friday sale. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

After the hustle and bustle over Singles' Day, retailers are gearing up for yet another weekend of sales - the American shopping affair, Black Friday, happening this year on Nov 23.

The sales usually stretch to the following Monday, termed as Cyber Monday, making it an extra-long shopping extravaganza.

Here are six things to know about Black Friday sales.


A customer loads his shopping cart during a Black Friday sales event on Thanksgiving Day at Target in Chicago. PHOTO: REUTERS

Black Friday is the informal name for the Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States, though the origin of the name is unclear, according to Bloomberg. One suggestion is that Black Friday describes how stores turned their balance sheet from red to black, which describes turning a loss to a profit.

Another idea is that the term was coined in the 1960s to represent the annual traffic chaos the day produced, while others claim it was used in the 1950s when managers recounted how employees would call in sick on Friday after Thanksgiving to snag a four-day weekend.

In Singapore, Black Friday has increasingly gained popularity among retailers and consumers. More local shops - both online and physical retailers - are taking part in the sales, and consumers are also looking both locally and overseas to find deals.


Workers sort parcels at an SF Express distribution centre ahead of the Singles' Day online shopping festival, in Shenyang, China on Oct 24. PHOTO: REUTERS

Coming so soon after the Singles' Day shopping bonanza, one might wonder if the Black Friday period would see similar shopping sprees. Numbers from previous years suggest that Singaporeans do not shy away from good deals during the Black Friday sales period despite having just made purchases during a recent sale. Last year, The Straits Times reported that online marketplace Qoo10 recorded sales value of $10.1 million between Nov 24 and 26, surpassing the previous year by more than 50 per cent. This was despite Qoo10 also having Singles' Day sales too that year.

Cashback site ShopBack said that the average spend for the Black Friday sales period last year was $214, while average spend this year for Singles' Day was $190. ShopBack foresees the average spend for this year's Black Friday to be higher than that of Singles' Day despite a 36 per cent increase in average spending during the latter.

More international merchants are involved in Black Friday sales, though there is an increase in the number of local and regional players jumping on board. Consumers' shopping basket sizes for international merchants tend to be bigger, as shoppers will consolidate items into a single shipment before shipping from overseas, according to ShopBack.


Courts Singapore gearing up for its Black Friday carnival sale. PHOTO: COURTS SINGAPORE

Brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore have a history of taking part in Black Friday over the last few years. Many of them are taking a dual-pronged approach to the sale this year to attract more customers, holding their sales both online and in stores. These include shops like Isetan, Courts, Royal Sporting House, as well as shopping mall Ion Orchard.

Retail giant Robinsons is having its annual Black Friday sale in-store from midnight on Friday. All three of its outlets will be open for 24 hours, and the retailer will be giving away iPhones and iPads to early birds who hit varying degrees of minimum spending.

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Department store Isetan is holding its second Black Friday event, after its first trial last year. Isetan, which did not take part in the Singles' Day sales, said: "Black Friday has evolved to offline but Singles' Day has largely remained an online affair. We have recently started to scale up our online assortment and should be in a good position for online events next year."

Isetan will be offering discounts of up to 90 per cent on its products, except for the food and cosmetics departments, which will have separate promotions.

Sports retailer Royal Sporting House is also having promotions on both fronts for its fourth year participating in Black Friday. Its physical stores and website will have sales of up to 40 per cent, beginning on Thursday (Nov 22) and ending on Sunday. Its sneaker concept store The Social Foot will offer up to a 20 per cent discount.

Coming off a successful Singles' Day, consumer electronics and furniture retailer Courts launched its sixth Black Friday sales campaign on Monday, for both its 14 physical stores as well as its online store. In the run up before Black Friday, Courts began engaging customers early, starting with pre-Black Friday sales on Monday.

It will also be offering discounts on shoppers' top 10 favourite products, which customers voted for online last week, as well as a 23 per cent site-wide discount for selected customers.

Ion Orchard is offering exclusive Black Friday deals across food, beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands, such as buy-three-get-one-free deals with cosmetics brand Sulwhasoo, and one-for-one Merry Frosty Frappes with boutique cafe The Connoisseur Concerto.

Available from Nov 19 to 26, shoppers have to flash their selected deals from the Ion Orchard social media pages to redeem it in stores.

"Hosting the deals on social media provides the opportunity for more shoppers to participate in the Black Friday sales and share it easily with their family and friends on social media," said a spokesman for the mall.

Many other stores, including Metro, BHG and Tangs, will be offering deals and discounts as well.


A Shopee buyer in Vietnam receiving an order. PHOTO: SEA LTD

E-commerce sites are growing in popularity in Singapore, as seen by the huge success of Singles' Day. Shopee plans to feature four days of deals from Friday to next Monday, based on what was well-received during the Singles' Day sales.

"For example, our flash deals were extremely well-received during our recent Shopee 11.11 Big Sale," said Shopee marketing head Ruoshan Tao. "In line with this, we partnered with leading brands to introduce a three-hour Brands Flash Sale that will feature store-wide discounts of up to 50 per cent off top brands including Blackmores, Marshall, Ray-Ban and Mattel."

E-retailer Zalora has discounts for over 500 international and local brands, and is offering, for a limited time, an extra 25 per cent off selected items in an early bird discount.

Other online sales being run include the one by booking website Hotels.com, which is offering up to 75 per cent off selected hotels around the world, as well as an additional $50 off using a coupon code.

Singaporean company Charles & Keith has already launched its Black Friday sales on its website, with up to 50 per cent off its shoes and accessories.

ShopBack users stand a chance to win prizes ranging from a Sony PlayStation 4 to an Apple iPad Pro after spending a minimum amount on various retailers through the platform. ShopBack is also giving shoppers a higher cashback percentage than usual for brands like ASOS, Melissa Shoes and HP. Making a purchase through the ShopBack platform gives a shopper a percentage of the amount spent as a cash reward that he can eventually withdraw through the app and transfer to his bank account.


​ A Qxpress staff supervising the line of Qoo10 parcels to ensure that all parcels are right-side up for the scanner in the Qxpress facility in Toh Guan, where items bought from Qoo10 are sorted. PHOTO: QOO10 ​

With hot deals getting customers in the shopping mood, the numbers are looking good for local retailers. A spokesman for Qoo10 said that Black Friday remains "one of (its) highest grossing sales events".

The spokesman added that Qoo10 expects a 10 to 30 per cent increase in revenue for Black Friday sales this year, as compared to 2017.

Shopee's chief commercial officer Zhou Junjie said that following the success of the company's recent 11.11 Big Sale, he was confident Shopee's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale would "be a huge hit" and surpass sales in the same period last year.

Retailers around the globe are in on the action as well.

As part of its Black Friday sales, Australian retail chain Kmart has a "Buy one pair, get one for $1" deal on selected shoes. Shoppers can get a second pair of footwear at just A$1 (S$1) after purchasing a first pair.

In Britain, retailer Argos got a head-start on the competition by starting its sales earlier in the week, offering heavy discounts on products such as televisions, phones and iPads.

Finally, US retail chain Walmart teamed up with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to offer shoppers US$10 (S$13.73) off online purchases using a promo code. According to Mashable, the code is valid until the end of this year.


Singapore Airlines is one of several airlines which has cheap flight deals offered on Skyscanner. The latter is a travel fare aggregator website in its third year of running Black Friday flight deals. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

For shoppers here who are hunting for good buys but need help to sniff out the best coupons or discounts available, there are tools they can turn to.

Singapore-based fintech company Rate offers a Web browser extension RateX that can be installed to help e-commerce shoppers and travellers automatically apply relevant promotion codes during checkout. It has also curated a Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals page.

Rate also claims its extension offers the wholesale exchange rate for shoppers purchasing overseas, making it a better deal than relying on the exchange rates offered by one's bank and credit cards, as these usually charge a mark-up.

Skyscanner, a travel fare aggregator website, is in its third year of running Black Friday flight deals.

"Despite Black Friday being traditionally regarded as a retail event, we've observed increasing interest from travellers looking to bag cheap flight deals on Skyscanner during this time," said Ms Robyn Lee, a senior growth manager at Skyscanner.

"With 11.11, we wanted to highlight that it's still possible to save on flights for year-end holidays, and with Black Friday, we want to encourage travellers to consider destinations farther than the usual Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong; where it's possible to visit Europe with less than $1,000."

The deals will go live on Skyscanner's website on Friday.

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