SINGAPORE - Crowds turned up in Orchard Road on Black Friday to bag the best deals despite many competing offers from online retailers.
Shoppers said the need to physically assess items was among their reasons for making the trip, as well as the nostalgia factor at Robinsons' final run at the annual event.
Healthcare worker Hilda Khoo beat about 400 other shoppers to be first in line to enter Takashimaya on the morning of Black Friday, which fell on Nov 27 this year.
The queue to enter the department store ran from the first floor to the basement with people leaving at least a 1m space between one another for social distancing. Some shoppers said that they chose to go to Takashimaya as it is the biggest store around after Robinsons announced its liquidation.
Mrs Khoo, 54, took leave on Friday to buy household items as she had recently moved house. She was at Takashimaya 50 minutes before the opening time of 11am.
She was one of many who showed up at physical stores across Singapore despite more Black Friday sales moving online. "I'm not the type who can shop online. I like to touch and feel fabrics and I can't visualise the colour or texture when I see it on screen," she added.
There was also a crowd at Metro department store in Paragon mall, where shoppers came in search of good deals.
Ms Esther Tan, 53, who works in the oil and gas industry, took leave on Friday to accompany her elderly mother to the shops for shoes, skincare items and bed linen.
"Metro gives a 20 per cent direct discount for my items. This will save me around $300," she said.
The Straits Times walked along the Orchard Road shopping stretch on Friday and found queues were shorter and shops less packed than in previous years.
The tone was muted at Robinsons, which is holding its final Black Friday sale. The 162-year-old department store attracted some loyal shoppers.
Mr Ong Chong King, 56, a retiree, has been going there since his childhood.
He was in the queue to enter the store at The Heeren at 10am.
"When stores first started doing Black Friday sales, they used to open very early at 7am, and we'd be there around 6.30am," he recalled. "It was very much a part of my childhood."
Online platforms such as Amazon and Lazada were also offering strong Black Friday discounts, with up to 30 per cent off on relatively big ticket items such as Apple's AirPod Pro.
In response to the ST's queries, online retailer Lazada said that it saw a nearly sevenfold increase in the first two hours of sales in comparison with last year's Black Friday event.
"Product categories that saw the largest year-on-year spikes ranging from 10 to 15 times include sports attire, televisions and furniture," said a Lazada spokesman in a statement on Friday.
Black Friday sales started in the United States as a way to mark the start of Christmas shopping. On the first Friday after Thanksgiving, stores push out items at discounted prices.