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Extra hiring to cope with Black Friday rush

Ready, steady, shop: shoppers grab for baskets as they enter the Phoenix Stores on Black Friday last year. Phoenix Stores is one of many business opening early tomorrow to offer big discounts (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda’s retailers hope that heavy discounts will help drive sales this week as Black Friday comes again — and it has meant some extra hiring.

Paula Clarke, chief executive officer of Gibbons Company and head of the retail division of the Chamber of Commerce, said stores are hoping for a busy day. For Gibbons, it has also entailed hiring more than 30 additional staff for the busy period.

Ms Clarke said: “Traditionally in retail the fourth quarter is where businesses can look forward to going into the black — hence the name. Black Friday has been popular for many years in the US, and has been an event in Bermuda for about ten years.

“We in retail are always working to respond to our customer’s needs. That’s what we do.”

Black Friday — the Friday after the American Thanksgiving — has become a major commercial event internationally with retailers offering steep discounts on products.

In recent years the event has spread outside of the Friday with online retailers marking Cyber Monday and charities benefiting from Giving Tuesday.

Ms Clarke said festivities at Gibbons are scheduled to start tonight with the main store remaining open until 10pm and the Home Store remaining open until midnight, with special prices coming into effect at 6pm and 6.30pm respectively.

On Black Friday itself, both stores will open early at 5am and stay open until 8pm.

“We have four shifts of people over two days so we can serve our customers effectively and our people don’t get tired.

“We have actually hired more than 30 additional people to assist us during the busy period, so we can offer the best possible service to our customers.”

Ms Clarke said the annual event takes months of preparation, with early work for this year’s Black Friday having started in January.

“We have to make sure we have the right timing of deliveries and that we are carrying the products that people want and when they want it.

“Business during the event has been very strong. I think our customers have really responded to the efficient service and the great deals that we offer.”

She added: “It’s an uplifting atmosphere. People are usually in a good mood, they enjoy the festive shopping experience, and we always try to make it as positive an experience as possible.”

Gibbons is not the only company that will be staying open tonight for those who want to do their Black Friday shopping early.

Darren Mayeaux, manager at Sports ‘R’ Us, said they the store will remain open until 11.59pm tonight to give shoppers another option.

He said: “The Black Friday weekend has always been an important one for us.

“There’s a definite increase in sales prior to Christmas, and it’s a great time for people to try to pick up some deals and knock off some things from their Christmas lists.”

George Grundmuller, president and CEO of The Phoenix Stores, said Black Friday represents the start of the company’s Christmas season.

He said: “For us, Black Friday both creates volume sales and acts as a ‘thank-you’ to our customers who have supported us throughout the year.

“We normally start planning for Black Friday in June when our buyers identify products and negotiate bargains which are then passed on to our customers.

“The atmosphere in our stores is usually exciting, as we offer great deals on the season’s most sought-after items.”

Mr Grundmuller added: “We expect numbers to be up this year over last, as we have fabulous deals in place, and customers have been asking about our offering for weeks now.

“There’s certainly a buzz in the air.”

The Phoenix Store, along with Annex Toys, P-Tech and Brown & Co, are scheduled to open their doors at 5am with discounts of up to 40 per cent.

Reid Street retailer iClick will meanwhile open its doors at 7am, with discounts on select items.

Not all retailers are holding Black Friday sales. Earlier this week People’s said it had decided its pharmacies and toy stores would not be participating this year, and would instead focus on offering beneficial deals throughout the Christmas period.