Black Friday shoppers flood into Hamilton for deals
The retail industry could see a permanent shift in its approach to Black Friday sales, the head of a store chain said yesterday.
George Grundmuller, the chief executive officer of The Phoenix Stores, said that the island could see bargains linked to the popular retail event spread out across November instead of being focused on a single day.
He said: “Sales a couple of years ago were really concentrated on Black Friday – those were the only days you saw those sales – what you’re seeing now is that pretty much November has turned into a promotional month.
“It was initially a reaction to the pandemic because we wanted to spread out the traffic so we could maintain social distancing in the stores, but now I think it’s here to stay.”
Mr Grundmuller said that the change could be for the better because it would allow for more sales at the tills and limit the “mayhem” that used to come from one-day Black Friday events.
But he added that, despite spreading the sales across the month, he would still promote the last Friday of November.
Mr Grundmuller explained: “People like the excitement of Black Friday – they’re coming out and supporting retailers – so we will continue with our Black Friday event.”
He added: “I don’t think this year we saw the same levels that we did in 2019, but we were definitely better than 2020.”
The Phoenix Stores, which includes Brown & Co. and P-Tech, led the charge in Hamilton by opening at 7am and treated customers to live music and bargains across the board.
Twiggy Thomas, 51, said that there were “much less people” out in the morning – but that she was committed to taking advantage of the deals on offer.
She added: “This is fun – it’s exciting for me. I’ve been doing these Black Friday sales since the very first one.”
Ms Thomas, from Warwick, who grabbed an “excellent” haul of chocolates and bath sets from The Phoenix Store on Reid Street, said that she used to get up as early as 3am for the last six years to hit the shops.
She added that she enjoyed the atmosphere of Hamilton during Black Friday – even in the middle of strict health regulations and later opening times.
Ms Thomas said: “This makes it feels like it’s Christmastime. It takes my mind away from thinking about Covid every day, all day.
“It really boosts my spirit.”
Sheryll Kelly, from Sandys, said that she “loved the hype” of Black Friday and had taken advantage of them for as long as she could remember.
She added: “It gets you ready for Christmas and sometimes I see people who I haven’t seen all year.”
Ms Kelly, who planned to buy Christmas gifts at Brown & Co., said that she also used to be in Hamilton around 3am or earlier – but started her shopping much later this year because of the stores’ later opening times.
She added: “The pandemic changed things – people are buying things more online and there aren’t as many people out as I thought there’d be.”
P-Tech, on the corner of Reid Street and Queen Street, extended its opening times by about six hours and shoppers access to its bargains from 7am to 8pm.
A store employee, who asked not to be named, said that shoppers had come to the store at a steady pace and that they expected more in the afternoon.
She added that, although it was quieter this year, the turnout was better than last year’s Black Friday.
The employee said: “so far it’s going well. not everyone wants to be up at 7am, but we’ve got a steady flow of people.”