Big-ticket buys expected to drive Black Friday weekend ahead of 2024 GST hike

SINGAPORE – Department stores across the island are pulling out all the stops to woo customers at the biggest festive retail event of the year.

Black Friday traditionally signals the beginning of the festive period – from Black Friday on Nov 24 to Cyber Monday on Nov 27 – when stores offer generous discounts on big-ticket items such as air-conditioners and home furnishings in the lead-up to Christmas.

Despite rising prices and a global economic slowdown, Singapore’s retail sector appears to be holding up well.

According to figures released in September by the Department of Statistics, department stores recorded growth of 0.8 per cent for the same period compared with 2022, as well as seasonal (month-on-month) growth of 2.4 per cent.

On a year-on-year basis, retail sales increased 0.6 per cent in September. Market analysts also expect retail performance to accelerate in 2024 as international visitor arrivals, consumer spending power and GDP growth improve.

A check by The Straits Times with 13 major department stores in Singapore showed that retailers expect demand to hit a high during the Black Friday weekend, ahead of the next goods and services tax (GST) hike.

On Jan 1, 2024, the GST rate will go up from 8 to 9 per cent, the second of a two-stage rate hike which started on Jan 1, 2023.

To cushion sticker shock, stores are curating merchandise that appeals to shoppers and ramping up in-store promotions, such as exclusive deals, gifts with purchases and rebates for members.

Metro department store’s chief operating officer Erwin Wuysang-Oei anticipates a strong showing for the Black Friday weekend.

It is Metro’s premier event of the year, featuring exclusive deals at its stores in Paragon in Orchard Road and Causeway Point in Woodlands for merchandise “meticulously curated and prepared for this occasion”.

“We approach this event with a blend of caution and optimism, urging shoppers to proactively navigate the impending GST hike and make meaningful purchases this Black Friday,” says Mr Wuysang-Oei, who has observed that Metro shoppers look for deals both online and in physical stores throughout the year.

“Our strategic focus is on delivering products that accentuate superior design, quality and excellent value,” he adds.

At Ngee Ann City in Orchard Road, Japanese retail giant Takashimaya Department Store is showcasing more than 300 brands in its Black Friday weekend, with discounts of up to 70 per cent on a range of toys, home decor and Christmas hampers.

“We are definitely upbeat about this Black Friday weekend and have added an additional tier of retail entertainment with our Spin-and-Win lucky draw, featuring $30,000 worth of prizes as well as hotel dining vouchers,” says its spokesperson.

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