Black Friday deals rake in mega weekend sales despite COVID-19

Black Friday deals rake in mega weekend sales despite COVID-19

Retailers benefit from renewed consumer confidence

Business reporter

Saturday, November 28, 2020

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Local retailers yesterday reported a significant uptick in sales as shoppers took advantage of massive deals on products at some of their favourite stores despite the effects of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

In anticipation of the very busy shopping period, retailers slashed prices by 50 per cent and upwards, opening their doors earlier in an effort to capitalise on the evening hours lost due to earlier closures associated with Government-imposed COVID-19 curfews.

Major Kingston shopping club PriceSmart Jamaica Limited said that it had maintained its usual sales from loyal customers throughout the period.

During what the entity dubbed its “Smart Week” period, which is the last week in November up to Black Friday, operators said there was the usual massive in-store shopping along with increased traffic to the company's e-commerce platform.

“Our online shopping platform has picked up quite a bit since Smart Week and since the pandemic. We are seeing a general growth in sales when compared to last year, so sales have been good. Due to the pandemic we don't have as many of the items that we would have liked to sell to our members, but beyond that it has been going good,” said Marc Heslop, assistant general manager at PriceSmart.

He said despite not being able to carry the full suite of products, customer support at the membership club remained strong.

Heslop said that the necessary social distancing markers along with sanitisation and limited entry were among strict the measures engaged to ensure crowd control at the retailer known to carry a heavy influx of shoppers, especially during holiday periods.

At Dunn's Electrical Hardware and Home Centre on Red Hills Road in Kingston, mask-wearing shoppers also took advantage of the numerous discounts, up to 50 per cent, available on various items.

Managing Director Steve Dunn said that while general sales for his company have been impacted since the onset of the pandemic, there was a renewed confidence among shoppers.

“Initially, we had about a 40 per cent reduction in sales since COVID, which now has been back up and averaging some 20 per cent. As it relates to this Black Friday weekend, people have been out in their numbers trying to get the available deals,” he told the Jamaica Observer, while noting that the company's recently launched e-commerce site was also gaining slight momentum which, he hopes, will get better in time.

In the western end of the island, stores such as Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) also reported a significant uptick in sales, especially online.

Joy Clarke, head of sales at ATL with responsibility for stores in the western region, said that for those stores sales skyrocketed to some 324 per cent in web sales when compared to the prior year. This, she believes, could be attributed to the pandemic along with significant marketing efforts made to push customers to the recently upgraded website.

“We are also experiencing a 30 per cent uplift in our in-store sales and there is obvious evidence of renewed consumer confidence based on sales activities when compared with the recent summer period,” she told the Observer.

Black Friday follows Thanksgiving Day in the United States and marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season for many countries worldwide, including Jamaica.

During the period, which normally continues over the weekend to the following Monday, Cyber Monday, customers anticipate mega deals from large retail stores with hopes of maximising funds on spending. On the day of the event, retailers also offer massive discounts on a wide variety of products in an attempt to increase sales during the Christmas period.

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