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Shoppers hit Black Friday sales

Shoppers form a line at Gibbons Company (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Shoppers kept up the Black Friday tradition yesterday by forming queues outside stores as early as 4am.

Some onlookers said the price-slashing extravaganza brought smaller crowds than previous years, but businessman George Grundmuller maintained early sales had increased.

One buyer, 49-year-old Peta Evans, said she had waited in front of the Phoenix store in Hamilton for an hour before the doors opened at 5am.

She said: “I thought it opened at four, and when I pulled up I said ‘oh good, nobody’s here’, but then a friend told me they opened at 5.

“I had a group but everybody bailed on me yesterday; I was almost ready to go home. But I’m glad I stayed — they’ve got a little line coming now.”

“I did the very first sale and then I’ve come looking around ever since.”

Ms Evans, who danced in the queue to keep warm, said that she wanted a baby bouncer for her four-month-old grandson.

She added: “Phoenix was the only place to have it and they only have two, so I have to get it before it goes.

“People’s has it, but they have it in pink and he’s a boy.”

Ms Evans said that this will probably be her last Black Friday queue.

She explained: “I have three grandsons, and my oldest two, ages 7 and 5, they’re not even interested in anything for Christmas. They don’t play with anything else but their iPads.”

Jessica McLennan, from Devonshire, said she was a regular at Black Friday sales.

The stay-at-home mother of two added the event was “two hours of uninterrupted shopping time”.

She said: “It’s the one day we don’t have children with us and our husbands aren’t asking us to do something.”

“I’ve come every year since it started. This is maybe my sixth year coming here.”

Ms McLennan said that she used Black Friday to get Christmas shopping done early and always has a plan of action.

She said: “You have to go beforehand and see what they have. You can’t go in blind.”

She added: “This year the sales aren’t so good, so we might go home early and help the children get ready for school.”

Mr Grundmuller, the general manager of Phoenix and Brown & Co, said that sales were expected to go up by 5 per cent.

He explained: “We had a bigger crowd when compared to last year and people seem to be spending more this time around.

“Sales are good and it’s only morning, so we’re expecting to have a long day.”

Mr Grundmuller said the biggest sellers at Phoenix were Quality Street chocolates and Lego bricks, while Brown & Co was popular for perfume, books and wrapping paper.

He added: “The customers have been very orderly, and everybody is very excited.

“There is a lot of laughter and good spirits. People are enjoying themselves and even our workers are happy and get overtime, so everybody benefits.”

Paula Clarke, chief executive of Hamilton’s Gibbons Company department store and a member of the Chamber of Commerce, said that it was too early to judge the success of this year’s event, but sales were expected to boost figures for the fourth quarter of the year.

She also said that stores that launched their sales on Thursday night had a more successful start than retailers who opted for a Friday start.

She explained: “There was a lot of excitement and energy around Hamilton, and the stores that remained open were busy throughout the evening.

“This Friday morning was a very slow start — although the kick off started at 5pm we realised that people didn’t come into town until a little later.”

Ms Clarke added that the Chamber of Commerce would continue to back Black Friday despite a drop in participation.

She said: “Black Friday will continue because it’s such an important part of the retail calendar. Black Friday is the kick off to the holiday season in the fourth quarter, which is one of the biggest days in the retail calendar.”

Ms Clarke suggested the dip in the number of shoppers could be down to a shrinking population. She said: “There are far less people living and spending in Bermuda, so that will naturally have an impact on the numbers.”