In Depth

Is the UK doing Black Friday properly?

Twitter reacts to the lack of queues and fighting

In the US, Black Friday involves a frenzy of bargain-hunters running from shop to shop, braving long queues and sometimes fights, injuries and even deaths.

The phenomenon, only seven years old in the UK, has provoked mixed feelings on this side of the Atlantic - and today’s efforts struck some observers as disappointingly restrained.

Early this morning, shocking pictures emerged of a calm and orderly Tesco store in Stockport.

“People appear to be queuing, behaving themselves and managing not to get into fights,” Metro says. “They were then able to go around the supermarket with their bargains with apparently little care as to whether or not someone would grab their purchases from them.” 

One shopper calmly bought two packs of hot dog buns, teacakes, and lettuce along with a 40” Sharp LED TV. In the US, few Black Friday shoppers would stop to buy groceries.

In Manhattan, hundreds of people lined the streets outside a branch of Target before 6am, and in Missouri one shopper sustained life-threatening injuries after a shooting in a mall car park. An Alabama mall was forced to close early when fights broke out, Reuters reports.

By contrast, in Walkden, Greater Manchester, a total of five shoppers showed up at Tesco to cash in on Black Friday deals, and a Twitter moment titled “The UK isn’t doing Black Friday Properly” presented a compilation of the eerie quietness around local shops.

When the BBC showed up at Currys PC World on Oxford Street, it was met by just one eager early shopper: 

 Things weren’t looking much livelier down the road at John Lewis:

Or at any other big-name stores:

Lacklustre discounts have sapped shoppers’ enthusiasm for Black Friday sales, says The Guardian. The number of online shoppers active between midnight and 7am was 24% down on last year, according to e-commerce trends service PCA Predict, although sales increased by 11% in the preceeding week.

“This longer sales period has shifted the emphasis away from Black Friday being a major retail event in its own right, towards becoming part of a pre-Christmas mini-season or ‘golden quarter’ for retailers,” Chris Boaz, ‎the company’s head of marketing told The Guardian.

While there was little evidence of panic-buying, Metro says this weekend is still expected to be the biggest ever for retailers. UK consumers are expected to spend £8bn over four days.


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