Local retailers could be in for a significant payday this weekend as scores of residents flocked to stores from as early as 7 a.m. Friday to take advantage of the increasingly popular Black Friday sale event.
The American tradition, which is expected to rake in billions of dollars for businesses in that country, has slowly been gaining traction here.
While officials could not give an estimate of how much could be made from the sales locally, Barbados TODAY understands that the one-day Duty-Free Day in December 2011 raked in more than $2 million in sales for this country.
Unicomer (Barbados) Ltd, the furniture and appliance store that trades here as Courts, was one of the pioneers of Black Friday here over three years ago.
When Barbados TODAY visited the Bridgetown Courts store it was evident that something significant was taking place, as scores of customers queued to purchase various items.
Managing Director Trisha Tannis said every year there was an increase in the number of people making purchases, and this year was shaping up to be no different.
“So far it has been an excellent response,” Tannis told Barbados TODAY Friday afternoon.
“So far it is trending ahead [of previous years]. The day goes through a little bit of peaks and valleys but so far we are happy with how it’s going,” she added.
Tannis would not commit to Black Friday sales for years to come, but said from the looks of things it seemed to be shaping up to be a permanent part of the island’s retail landscape.
“Retail is very dynamic. It [Black Friday] is catching on. Certainly when we started we were the only one for maybe the first two years. Fast track to today, pretty much everybody has a Black Friday event or significant sale event even if it is not deemed Black Friday,” she pointed out.
Over at Sheraton Mall, which introduced Black Friday sales last year, Cave Shepherd opened at 7 a.m. in anticipation of the rush.
Store Manager Lisa Ottley said there had been a steady flow of customers with most of them buying perfumes and handbags.
“As soon as we opened we had a rush because this is the only store doing the 20 per cent discount for Black Friday in our Cave Shepherd stores,” Ottley said.
“Going forward we will continue this opening same hours. Last year was the first year we did it . . . and I hope to do better this year than we did last year because we advertised more this year,” she added.
Supervisor at the Thani’s Shoe Shop at the mall Jackie Sealy said some staff from the store’s Bridge Street branch had to be called in to assist because of the overwhelming response.
She said people were making purchases for themselves and calling friends and family members to find out their shoe sizes in order to make purchases for them as well.
“So far for the day we find that the sale has been going excellent,” she told Barbados TODAY Friday afternoon.
“We have customers who came just to see what was going on and ended up buying three or four pairs. I had one guy that actually bought seven pairs of shoes . . . he bought for himself and his family. So it has been going excellent so far,” said an excited Sealy.
The retailers agreed that while a lot of customers were using the opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping, others were waiting for their Christmas bonuses to shop for the Holiday season.
Some customers told Barbados TODAY they were grateful for the deals, agreeing that some of their shopping was for Christmas.
Executive Director of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lisa Gale described Black Friday as “a good day for retailers in Barbados”.
Pointing to the heavy traffic on the roads Friday, the fact that it was payday for many workers, and the upcoming Independence celebrations next week, Gale agreed that the local retail industry would “see a definite boost” at an opportune time for the economy.
“It works well. Retail boost, which translate to employment and longer working hours . . . means a little more pay for the same employees. So it is a benefit both for the stores and the employees and for the customers, because the customers benefit from sales that are put on,” she said.
Gale could not say how much the Black Friday sales could rake in for the country, but stressed that it “augured well” for the retail industry here.