Melburnians have flocked to major shopping centres for annual "Black Friday" sales as Victoria recorded its 28th consecutive day without a new coronavirus case in a sign the city is fast-approaching "COVID normal".
Hundreds of cars were seen banked up outside Chadstone shopping centre in Melbourne’s south-east, with queues extending onto the Monash Freeway.
Vehicles line up to exit the Monash Freeway at Warrigal Road to gain access to Chadstone shopping centre. Credit:Joe Armao
Inside there were long queues outside some stores, with almost all shoppers wearing face masks.
Chadstone's centre manager Michael Whitehead said encouraged customers to shop for sales in the morning over the weekend, or later in the afternoon or evening.
"Black Friday sales have become a tradition at Chadstone and this year, more than ever, we’re seeing strong demand," he said.
Inside Chadstone shopping centre on Friday.
"Our team works closely with VicRoads, with a delegated VicRoads controller on-site today, to help ease congestion on the roads, including managing traffic light sequencing to make it easier and safer for motorists getting to and from Chadstone.
"We know we all have a responsibility to help keep each other safe … and we expect our customers, retailers, our teams and anyone else visiting Chadstone to do the right thing and use a commonsense approach."
He said people were generally doing the right thing, keeping a safe distance, wearing masks and shopping with purpose to get the items they need.
A member of Chadstone’s COVID safe crew.
Myer's chief customer officer Geoff Ikin said the department store, like many other retailers, had taken additional measures to reduce the likelihood of people breaking social distancing rules by being in a confined space while shopping.
"For those customers wanting to shop in-store they can do with confidence as we have enhanced health and safety measures in place, and our spacious floors allow for easy social distancing," he said.
RAG Group chief executive Gary Novis, who oversees the operations of stores including Tarocash, Connor, Rockwear and YD, spoke to The Age from Sydney's East Gardens shopping centre and said Friday's sales were so far "exceeding expectations".
"I'm in the centre now and it's unbelievable. We wouldn't have thought six months ago that we'd be here now," he said.
"We're even trading up on last year.
"It's the busiest I've seen it all year, and this is going to set up most retailers for a positive Christmas."
However, social distancing and mask-wearing were almost completely absent at the Sydney shopping centre, Mr Novis said.
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