So here we go.
Black Friday is tomorrow, and shoppers are ready to whip out their credit cards at the multitude of online retailers participating in the sale.
What most people fail to realise in this part of the world, though, is that unlike Cyber Monday, Black Friday has its roots in brick-and-mortar stores, who traditionally are the ones giving steep discounts for the coming holiday season.
Whenever a Singaporean mentions Black Friday, the first thing that will come to their minds would be sites like Amazon.com – among others.
What’s Happening In Singapore
Previously, in our guide to shopping online for Black Friday, we did a little portion about going local. All your favourite online marketplaces are on board, with the likes of Lazada, Shopee and Qoo10 all joining in the craze.
Offline, though, things are a lot quieter.
Since 2014, this sale period has mostly been championed by two retailers – Courts and Robinsons, and others only started in 2015, including the likes of Kinokuniya, and Challenger (at their online store).
Seeing how these retailers enjoyed moderate success with the sales, the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) convened to announce late last year that they are planning to officially hold a Black Friday sales event period with retailers in Orchard Road in 2016.
It Didn’t Happen
This morning, The Straits Times reported that the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) has decided to shelve all plans for the event.
Orba executive director Steven Goh stated these reasons as to why – “physical retailers cannot compete with online stores on prices. Online retailers have lower operating costs.”
Well, who’s fault is this? Obviously the developers behind every single mall along Orchard Road.
With mall occupancy levels in Singapore at an all time low, it’s probably time these people woke up and lower rental rates before Orchard Road becomes deserted.
Another reason for the cancellation was also “that a Black Friday sale would clash with Christmas promotions”.
This is laughable at best. In a place like Singapore, where shops are pretty open to offering sales, Black Friday clashing with Christmas shouldn’t be seen as an issue.
Here’s an idea – just have the sales period extend from Black Friday all the way through to Christmas Eve.
“As a precinct, we want people to dine, eat and shop here. Events like Black Friday and Singles’ Day go against our principle.”
I don’t know about you, but after a day out shopping, I will tend to grab a bite at the nearest place possible, and Orchard Road has tons.
Shops and F&B establishments litter the entire stretch of Orchard Road side by side, and even on normal days, getting a seat at a restaurant could mean waiting a while, but people still do it.
“Premium brands are unwilling to give that kind of steep discounts. And with the high overheads here, brick-and-mortar stores cannot afford to.”
I don’t think consumers expect the likes of Louis Vuitton, Coach, Gucci, and Prada and other designer labels to join in on Black Friday. Even in the US they don’t, to maintain brand exclusivity.
And the part about high overheads brings the argument back to the first reason.
Manpower issues for both sides can pretty much cancel each other out, but the defining factor for traditional retailers still boils down to rent, and the people dictating how much it costs.
The Pioneering Retailers Will Still Go Ahead With Their Plans
The three musketeers who pioneered the offline Black Friday trend in Singapore will still go ahead with their own plans.
According to Robinsons, they drew five times more customers for last year’s sales, while Courts this year has stepped up their efforts online.
Sephora, Topshop, and Dorothy Perkins are also some of the brands named to have sales in place for Black Friday.
Fom what I have noticed on social media, it seems that many other smaller retailers are gearing up for Black Friday too.
For the sake of drawing shoppers in, they can’t possibly hope for an ‘official’ event by a union or association when the retail scene is already so cutthroat – physically and digitally.
You know, the fact that an organisation has to step up to make anything official is definitely #uniquelySingapore, but the reality is, if your store doesn’t capitalise on the hype of well-known retail seasons (like Black Friday and Singles Day), you will lose out.