Property being vandalised, fistfights, stampedes in which some shoppers passed out and had to receive first aid on the shop floor – these were all what consisted of Foschini’s two-day sale. It was a clearance sale where everything in the women’s retaining chain stores in Windhoek central business district was marked down to N$59. The sales took place this week Tuesday and Wednesday. And hundreds of women shoppers arrived at the shops ahead of the opening hours. “I have never seen such before,” said Tucy Urikhos one of the fashion consultants at one of the two Windhoek Foschini shops that had clearance sale.
Management at the larger Foschni shop in Sanlam Building had to close the shop early on the first day of the clearance sale because the number of women who rushed in the shop were just too much and there were still many more outside pushing to get inside. There was at least one person who had to be taken to the hospital in the stampede that ensured on the second day of clearance sale. One of the fashion consultants estimated the number of women who attempted rushing into the shop to be about 500. At the smaller shop in Wernhill Park there were fewer women but that still did not stop the women from rushing into the shop, destroying tills and stands as each women attempted to grab as much as they can.
Foschini fashion consultants narrated to this newspaper how they worked until late Monday night, the night of 01 May, which was a Workers Day holiday, to have everything ready for the sale on 02 and 03 May. According to Urikhos the idea was to clear out all old stock, because “we were overstocked.” To keep some sort of control the cosmetic areas and areas with none sale items were lined off, not only for control but security purposes. All was set.
But, alas, it not end well. The Tuesday morning there were only 15 workers helping about 500 women at a time. All workers became stressful, which led to not only women having a screaming matches on the shop floors but, to customers screaming to scared workers. Security scanners at the doors at both shops were run over so doors needed to be kept closed at all times.
On Wednesday morning two customers started a fistfight at the door as soon as it opened, and this was because the other tried to cut in. On each day one could observe women seated in corners protecting items they had managed to collect or grab, some had boxes others had large plastic bags. If one had one shoe and someone else another, they would either wait each other out at the tellers or they would start negotiations. Cunning tactics were the order of the day. The stampede at the door saw customers and workers alike hurt or bruised with one woman seen passed out.
Customers who arrived late were seen grumbling, complaining how unfair they found the way the sale was being handled. According to one customer she felt that they should have had restrictions on the number of items one could have, if they did everyone could have had at least something.
Customers too were not impressed and took to Facebook to complain. “Foschini Namibia left me speechless after what they have done, advertised a massive sale on local newspapers and the crowds turned up on the dates indicated.
The management did not put in place any precaution to prevent looting. People grabbed items from the shop, looted the shop while the personnel stood and looked on, ordinary people have to call City Police who came but by then she shelves was already emptied. Some people fought and some were seriously injured. This alone indicate a complete poor management by the retailer managers, what do you expect if everything in the shop was to cost R59.00. Shame,” posted one customer on Foschini Facebook Page.