SHOPPERS in Orchard Central were plunged into darkness on Saturday afternoon as water seepage from a heavy downpour caused a blackout.
Restaurants had to cancel dinner bookings and retailers saw customers walking out. Many shops were forced to close early, losing business on an otherwise busy weekend in the run-up to the festive season.
The power outage at around 2pm affected about 50 shops in the mall's east wing. Power was restored in some shops as well as the lifts within a couple of hours but resumed fully for all the shops only at around 1.30am yesterday.
Fusion restaurant Kilo was forced to cancel its dinner shift, meaning it took just under $2,000 on a Saturday when it would usually bring in at least $5,000.
Manager Paolo Castillo said: "Some of the guests were upset but we could only apologise and say it was beyond our control."
He added that Kilo had offered all the affected diners 20 per cent off for their next meal.
The refrigerators in Kilo's kitchen also stopped working, meaning the staff returned the next morning to discover many expensive perishable ingredients, such as salmon, octopus and minced pork, had gone bad and had to be thrown out.
Fashion retailer In Club had to close four hours early at 6pm. Manager Jo Wan, 46, said: "The customers couldn't see anything. How were we going to get them to stay and browse?
"Losing one Saturday afternoon's business really costs us, especially while we're having our Christmas sale. There may be no customers, but we still have to pay rent and our staff still need to draw a salary."
Yesterday, business had returned to normal for most of the mall although some escalators and the lighting on the facade of the building were still affected.
Eric Tong, assistant director of retail business at Far East Organisation, confirmed that water seepage during the heavy downpour on Saturday caused the blackout.
He said: "We are now working towards fully restoring the power and investigating the source of water seepage.
"We regret any inconvenience caused to our tenants and shoppers and will provide assistance and support where required."
At multi-label clothing chain The Editor's Market, however, the blackout failed to dampen spirits at a $15 storewide clearance sale.
Sales assistant Amanda Teo, 22, said: "We have big windows so there was still some light. People would try on clothes in the dressing rooms in the dark, then walk outside to look at themselves in the mirrors.
"The power came back by 5pm and we closed at 10pm as usual."
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