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Retailers declare Black Friday a success

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Shoppers turned out in their droves to snap up a few bargains as the Black Friday event got into full swing in Bermuda.

A total of 1,750 people alone came through the doors at the Phoenix Stores Ltd between 5.30am and 8am with some eager punters queuing from 2am.

Such was the interest and number of people that got out of bed early to bag a deal that the queue to Brown & Co stretched all the way down Queen Street to Front Street and the one to the Phoenix Stores backed up all the way to Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Brisk sales were also reported at Daisy & Mac and CellOne, while other stores including Digicel, Gorham's and the Pro Shop were offering special deals to entice customers.

Paula Clarke, chairman of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce's retail division, declared the event a huge success, saying that it had really caught the public's imagination and proved that retailers did offer genuine value for money.

“I think that the early start was something really exciting and new in Bermuda,” she said.

“Initially we perhaps thought that people would never get up early to shop but that has definitely been proven wrong.

“There was certainly a lot of excitement from customers and staff alike so I think that as an event has been a huge success.”

Ms Clarke reported that there had been steady foot traffic throughout the day into the mid-afternoon and was hopeful that would continue into the later evening.

She said that it was just the kind of shot in the arm that retailers needed to boost trade while customers had reaped the rewards with some good purchases.

“I think it was a great start to the holiday season and it proves there really are bargains to be had in Bermuda,” she said.

Ms Clarke, who is also the CEO of the Gibbons Company, said that she took on board the fact the event could have been publicised further ahead and that retailers would be looking closely at how to improve going forward.

Among the best sellers at the Gibbons Company were toys, children's wear, coats, jackets, sweaters, bedding sheets, towels and big furniture items and based on the uptake this time round had plans to offer something similar next year.

“In general people felt positive and encouraged that the public came out and shopped Bermuda and I think the net result based on what they have been buying was that they got good value for money and that has been the message that we have tried to get out for some time now and we continue to work towards that goal,” she said.

George Grundmuller, president and CEO of the Phoenix Stores, who had been up since 4am on the day, said that the event by far exceeded his expectations in terms of the turnout, atmosphere and sales.

“By all accounts everybody was happy with the sales that we put on and had fun,” he said.

“There were queues, but that was to be expected I think, and everybody was upbeat about it which was very much appreciated.”

Mr Grundmuller also commended Government for the payroll tax relief that it granted retailers, enabling them to pass on the savings to their customers and give something back to the community.

He said that the feedback had been positive from customers, reflected in sales of toys, particularly Lego and Barbie dolls, Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and bows, jewellery and music systems, as highly priced as the Bose systems at up to $3,000.

“I would like to congratulate all of the team who worked very hard to make this even happen and ensure it ran smoothly, from the advertising and marketing to the sales and customer service staff,” he said.

Rather than viewing the lack of advertising ahead of the event as a negative with a number of people choosing to shop overseas in the US instead, Mr Grundmuller said that he hoped to have gained a few new customers and there would always be those who travelled abroad to visit family and friends and get their purchases elsewhere.

Dawn Zuill, owner of Daisy & Mac, which was holding its second Black Friday sale following the success of last year's event, described the energy and excitement of the occasion as “overwhelming”.

The children's store was offering discounts on everything from toys to kids and teens fashion with Christmas music to get people in the spirit and many people coming in to complete their shopping list for the festive season.

“Our team at Daisy & Mac have worked very hard to deliver a wonderful day and we would all like to extend our thanks and gratitude for the support our customers have shown,” said Ms Zuill.

A spokesman for CellOne said that sales had been good with a few hundred people plus going through the company's Church Street store with new phones in hand.

“Although customers have to wait a while in line, they genuinely seem in great spirits and we are taking care of them with juice, coffee and pastries, plus phone giveaways throughout the day,” he said.

He said that overall the event seemed like a worthwhile exercise and had been a good day for retail in Bermuda.

Excitement building: A Phoenix employee reminds the crowds gathered to remain calm before the doors opened to Black Friday shoppers (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Bargain hunters: Black Friday shoppers line up around the block to take advantage of early morning discounts around Hamilton (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Black Friday shoppers pour into Brown & Co to take advantage of early morning discounts (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Black Friday shoppers take advantage of early morning discounts at CellOne (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published November 28, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 28, 2011 at 8:29 am)

Retailers declare Black Friday a success

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