OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Enthusiasm is high for business operators and shoppers in St Ann as Jamaica Observer's celebration of Fashion's Night Out (FNO), the five-hour shopping experience on Thursday, draws near.
"I'm just really hoping that it will be like last year or even better, but with the downturn in the economy, I'm just really hoping that it will be good," proprietor of Outlook Store in the Ocean Village shopping centre in Ocho Rios, Synatra Kow, told the Jamaica Observer North East.
More than 100 stores in the major towns of Ocho Rios, St Ann's Bay and Brown's Town, have already signed on and that figure is expected to increase significantly by Thursday.
Kow explained that in addition to the huge discounts that her customers are accustomed to since FNO was introduced to Ocho Rios, there are plans to stage a mini stage show during which a number of stylish apparel from a local designer will be on display.
FNO has also received the 'blessing' of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce and its president, Leopold Williams, told the Observer North East that the chamber was in full support of the initiative, especially the economic benefits that will be derived.
"We are going into a slow period so anything that will help to bring revenues, even if it is for just one day, once people can maximise and earn revenues, it is welcomed," Williams said.
He added, "The St Ann Chamber of Commerce supports anything that will bring business into the parish."
Lisa Broderick, manager at Joseph's, said the store has had some experiences with FNO and she is expecting an even bigger turnout and increase spending from customers.
Broderick did not disclose what percentage discounts customers would see but she explained that previous FNO customers would be aware of the great discounts and the wide variety available at the store.
"Based on how it went last year, I'm expecting that it will do very well again this year," Broderick said. Customers, she added, should expect surprises as there are plans to introduce things which will ensure that customers experience a really good shopping atmosphere.
"We have a lot of new merchandise and a lot of new accessories, so the regular Joseph's customers will know what to expect and the new ones can expect a really good shopping atmosphere," she added.
Added Broderick: "We had probably the biggest crowd ever last year. It did very well so we are looking forward to it again."
In Brown's Town, proprietors there said based on the short time previously used to promote FNO in the area and the turnout they received, they were expecting an even more successful experience.
"We sell a lot of Jamaican branded items and we are offering up to 50 per cent discount on certain items so I'm really expecting a lot of people to come in and make use of the opportunity," explained Valrie Robinson of Jenni Jamaica in Brown's Town.
"We are just hoping for things to happen so we can improve on our revenues," she added.
Shoppers, too, are excited about the great bargains they are expecting to find on a number of items at the participating stores and have commended the Observer for bringing the initiative to Jamaica.
"FNO is a must for me because right now I'm identifying certain items that I want and I can't wait for it to kick in so I can cash in on the great deals. I'll actually be able to get more with the little cash I have," Nicolette Nelson told the Observer North East.
"The only issue I have with it is the time of week and right after back-to-school, but it's still a very good initiative because at least people will be able to get one and two items at a reduced cost and that is good," another shopper, Dawnette Smith, said.