More retailers open doors for Black Friday sales

In bid to lure shoppers, more brick-and-mortar stores fight online platforms' steep discounts

Shoppers in Courts at Courts Orchard during the Black Friday sale in Singapore on Nov 25 2016.

If the downtown area seemed like it was more crowded at the weekend, it was because the usual end-of-year sale season came earlier this year for some retailers.

More brick-and-mortar shops jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon this year in a bid to attract more customers.

Stores like Robinsons, Courts, Topshop, Topman, Harvey Norman and H&M were out in full force to roll out promotions for what is known in the United States as Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving.

All three Robinsons stores slashed their prices by up to 80 per cent. The retailer also brought forward its opening time from 10.30am to 7am.

Furniture, IT and electronics retailer Courts, which has taken part in Black Friday sales since 2013, offered a priority pass for the first time this year - 280 shoppers who pre-registered could skip the queue and get access to exclusive discounts. The chain also offered discounts of up to 80 per cent at all its 14 outlets and online store.

Meanwhile, Swedish fashion chain H&M launched a Black Friday collection for the first time, with black as the key colour palette - selected items went on sale from $10.

Retailers said Black Friday sales helped to increase footfall and sales amid a soft retail climate.

Wing Tai Retail executive director Helen Khoo said the crowd at some of its stores doubled, compared with normal weekends and Fridays, while sales were between two and four times better than usual.

A Robinsons spokesman said the turnout was "overwhelming", adding that some shoppers queued for hours before its stores opened at 7am on Friday. Highly sought-after items included home and electrical appliances, tableware, kitchenware and bedding products.

Courts Singapore country chief executive Stan Kim said mattresses, TVs, action cameras and smart watches were among the popular items. Black Friday, he added, is gaining momentum as there is growing awareness among consumers with the rise of online shopping.

He said: "Courts' online store showed a significantly stronger performance against last year, and our offline stores also benefited from the Black Friday campaign, a testament to the fact that shoppers look to both online and offline platforms alike for great deals."

Administrative executive Janet Neo, 29, and her 30-year-old husband spent about four hours in Orchard Road on Friday evening.

The couple dropped by outlets such as Sephora, Fred Perry and Robinsons for clothes, make-up and bedding material, and saved about $500, thanks to the discounts. Ms Neo said: "The discounts were really worth it. If it wasn't so crowded, I would have bought more things."

Black Friday, an annual American tradition, was coined to describe the day retailers turned in profits and went "into the black".

It is usually immediately followed by Cyber Monday, where stores offer further deals online. Some retailers in Singapore, including Robinsons, are expected to take part.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2016, with the headline More retailers open doors for Black Friday sales. Subscribe