UK shoppers rush to Black Friday

1 December 2014

LONDON: Black Friday, the shopping bonanza imported from the US, has taken off in the UK in a big way with British consumers expected to spend a record £1.7bn online on the day itself and over the weekend.

According to Visa Europe, the financial transactions firm, Britons will use Visa cards to spend £518m online on Black Friday and place 8.5m orders in the 24-hour period.

That would represent a 22% increase on last year, which would make it the biggest online shopping day in UK history, the Telegraph reported.

Asda, the supermarket chain owned by Walmart, said it expects this year's event to be three times larger than in 2013 and has been offering discounts on 700,000 products in 441 of its stores.

"Black Friday for us is not a watered down, pale imitation and a way to get rid of clearance items," said Andrew Moore, chief merchandising officer at Asda.

"Our range and stores have all the gusto of the US experience and you'd be crazy to miss it," he added.

Christopher North, managing director of Amazon UK, agreed that Black Friday is likely to be even bigger in the UK than last year and welcomed the enthusiasm it has generated.

"It is something we started in the UK, but I love the fact so many companies have jumped on the bandwagon because it makes it bigger for everyone," he said. "It has created a genuine excitement with consumers."

However, it appeared that several consumers had allowed themselves to get too excited by the event as reports came in on Friday of fights breaking out in London, Manchester and other cities as shoppers tried to grab the best deals.

Greater Manchester Police were called to at least seven Tesco stores while fights also erupted in Glasgow and Cardiff, leading the Financial Times to comment that the day could now be dubbed "Black Eye Friday".

Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, told the Daily Mail that the disorder was "totally predictable" and blamed stores for not ensuring they had enough security staff on duty.

Data sourced from Telegraph, Financial Times, Daily Mail; additional content by Warc staff