Shoppers throng stores for Black Friday deals; queue at Robinsons starts at 11am the day before

The queue outside Robinsons Heeren at 6.45am on Nov 24, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
The queue outside Robinsons Heeren at 6.45am on Nov 24, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Black Friday sales at Courts Orchard. ST PHOTO: CHEOW SUE-ANN

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

Mr Gilbert Loh, 54, a freelance sports coach, who was first in line outside Robinsons Heeren to shop on Black Friday, said his family had been queueing since 11am on Thursday (Nov 24).

"We took turns to stand in line. It's like free camping in Orchard Road, the biggest struggle is just trying to rest when it's so noisy," he said, gesturing to the cars on the road and the twittering birds in the trees.

By 6.20am on Friday, Mr Loh was joined by at least 150 other shoppers and the queue snaked around the block.

Other shoppers, who had stayed overnight to ensure they got the best deals on Black Friday morning, came prepared with sleeping bags, sleep masks and inflatable mattresses.

At Robinsons and Metro, the second the doors opened, shoppers sprinted up the escalators towards the deals.

The buzz at Orchard Road yesterday 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 turned in profits and went "into the black".

Both online and bricks-and-mortar stores pulled out the stops to attract shoppers.

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On top of having promotions, retailers like Robinsons, Sephora and Metro extended opening hours extended opening hours - with Metro opening at 7.30am for the first time.

The second the doors to the department store opened, shoppers sprinted up the escalators towards the deals. The most popular section by far was the bedding section, where the queue for the cashier snaked around the entire floor.

Many shoppers whom The Straits Times interviewed said they have taken the day off or time off from work to snag some good buys.

At Robinsons, there were about 500 people in the queue, which was 350 more than last year.

The earliest person this year started queueing from 11am the previous day. Last year, the earliest person only turned up at 10pm the night before.

Mr Shing Cham, 34, an art director, took 1½ days off and started queuing at Robinsons from 2pm on Thursday.

He had his eye on the free gifts - two iPhone Xs - which came with minimum $8,000 purchases.

"Our objective was to get the iPhone, and since we also needed new bedding for our new homes, we decided to make it happen today," he said.

Customers dashing into Robinsons Heeren at 7am after the doors opened on Nov 24, 2017. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

His family said that they were intending to take a nap before queuing last night but one of their cousins had walked past the store and seen people already in the queue, so they rushed home, grabbed their survival kit and joined the queue.

Their kit included eye masks and inflatable pillows.

"We did train beforehand, with some conditioning. We mostly ran up stairs a few times to prepare," he said.

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About 30 people were in a queue outside Metro at Paragon at 7am on Friday.

Ms Rachel Lee, 32, who works in marketing, said she dropped by to see what she could get before going to work.

"The deals are pretty good, it's always worth it to go shopping when I can on days like this," she told The Straits Times.

Metro is offering a purchase-with-purchase deal where shoppers can get additional items at discounted prices if they make a purchase.

Ms Anita Figi, 19, was spotted purchasing some lipsticks and serum at Sephora.

"It is so worth it to come to town to shop on Black Friday because I actually think I saved a good amount. The serum itself was originally $97, so after 15 per cent it was such a good deal."

"Even coming earlier was worth it," she added.

Madam Alicia Wong, 43, a housewife, reckons she saved more than $100 when she shopped at Robinsons on Friday for clothes and cosmetics.

"The sale is a good time to buy things that you might otherwise not want to spend huge sums on. The deals also make it a good time to buy gifts for Christmas," she told The Straits Times.

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Electronics giant Courts offered discounts of up to 90 per cent.

One shopper spotted inside the Orchard Courts branch, Mr Tristan Haberley, 32, a consultant from Australia, who was looking for a smartwatch, 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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