Black Friday in Orchard as shoppers dash for deals

6.45am: People in line outside Robinsons The Heeren in Orchard Road yesterday. Some had been queuing since Thursday. 7am: Shoppers sprinting into Robinsons The Heeren right after the doors opened.
6.45am: People in line outside Robinsons The Heeren in Orchard Road yesterday. Some had been queuing since Thursday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
6.45am: People in line outside Robinsons The Heeren in Orchard Road yesterday. Some had been queuing since Thursday. 7am: Shoppers sprinting into Robinsons The Heeren right after the doors opened.
7am: Shoppers sprinting into Robinsons The Heeren right after the doors opened.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Many queue overnight or take time off work to snag deals as retailers pull out all stops to woo customers

The Loh family spent the night on the hard pavement of Orchard Road on Thursday - all in the hope of getting soft, new mattresses at a sharp discount.

Mr Gilbert Loh, a freelance sports coach who was first in line outside Robinsons Heeren in anticipation of shopping there on Black Friday, said his family had been queueing since 11am on Thursday.

"We took turns to stand in line. It is like free camping in Orchard Road - the biggest struggle is just trying to rest when it is so noisy," said the 54-year-old, gesturing to the cars, and the birds overhead.

By 6.20am yesterday, Mr Loh was joined by at least 150 others, with the queue to enter the department store snaking around the block. Other shoppers, who had stayed overnight to ensure they would get the best deals, came prepared with sleeping bags, sleeping masks and inflatable mattresses.

The second the doors opened at Robinsons and Metro, shoppers ran in and sprinted up the escalators.

The buzz in Orchard Road yesterday was an indication of how much Black Friday - the yearly shopping affair in the United States over the Thanksgiving weekend - has gained traction in Singapore. The term was coined to describe the day retailers turn in profits and go "into the black".

Both online and bricks-and-mortar stores here pulled out all the stops to attract consumers. Besides offering various promotions, retailers like Robinsons, Sephora and Metro extended their opening hours. Metro, for instance, opened at 7.30am for the first time.

Many shoppers told The Straits Times that they took the day off or time off from work to snag some good buys.

Mr Shing Cham, 34, an art director, took 1½ days off from work and was queueing at Robinsons from 2pm on Thursday. He had his eye on the free gifts, especially the iPhone X, which came with a minimum $8,000 purchase.

Mr Cham and his family said they were planning to take a nap before heading back to queue in the night, but one of their cousins saw people already in line, so they rushed home, grabbed their "survival kit" and joined the queue. Their kit included eye masks and inflatable pillows.

About 30 people were in a queue outside Metro at Paragon at around 7am yesterday.

Ms Rachel Lee, 32, who works in marketing, said she was checking out what to buy before going to work. "The deals are pretty good. It is always worth it to go shopping when I can on days like this," she told The Straits Times.

Metro offered a purchase-with-purchase deal where shoppers could get additional items at discounted prices if they made a purchase. Electronics giant Courts, meanwhile, gave discounts of up to 90 per cent.

At the Orchard Courts branch, Mr Tristan Haberley, a consultant from Australia, was shopping for a smartwatch. The 32-year-old said: "I didn't know that there was a Black Friday sale here, but I saw some really good deals and thought to check it out."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2017, with the headline 'Black Friday in Orchard as shoppers dash for deals'. Print Edition | Subscribe