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Mayhem in Shops as Britain Adopts 'Black Friday' Shopping

  • Selah Hennessy

Police were called to stores across Britain as Black Friday came to the nation, leaving many shops unable to cope with the influx of shoppers.

ASDA, a Britain-based subsidiary of the major U.S.retailer Walmart, was one of a number of British stores that this year introduced “Black Friday” sales.

Before Friday’s sale began, ASDA executive Ayaz Alam said it is good news that the store is adopting a tradition that generates huge sales for its sister company in the United States.

“Black Friday is the biggest and busiest shopping day on the U.S. calendar, and at Walmart we see huge sales on that day," said Alam.

And in Britain, sales soared.

Early figures show that U.K. shoppers spent over $550,000 a minute on credit cards, and made around 8.5 million online transactions.

Black Friday is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States, coming the day after Thanksgiving and kicking off the Christmas shopping season. It is called "Black Friday" because for many retailers it marks the beginning of their annual profits.

In Britain, retailers this year offered thousands of deals, with an average price cut of 40 percent. That prompted customers to begin lining up outside of stores hours before their Friday morning openings.

At a John Lewis department store, young people stayed up all night to get discounted shoes.

"You can never have too many pairs of trainers, so I’m just going to keep on buying, buying, buying," said one.

"I’m here to get the Jordan 6’s black infrared, because I love the shoes," said another. "I’m about the shoes. I would do it every day, actually."

But at a number of stores Britain, shops were unable to cope with the huge influx of customers.

One customer described people “climbing over shelves,” staff “running for cover,” fights breaking out and goods flying through the air.

One shopper reports that at one store the cashier was in tears, terrified by the onslaught.

In Manchester, in the north of England, police had to visit at least seven stores after mayhem erupted. One woman was taken to hospital after a television fell on her head.

Police were critical of stores for not having been better prepared with security — but retail analysts say the chaos probably will not stop British retailers from holding Black Friday sales next year.

"I think when we look back in the future this could be seen as quite a pivotal day when Black Friday officially arrived in the U.K," said Bryan Roberts, a retail analyst at Kantar.

Other analysts say that retailers will not necessarily benefit from Black Friday.

Nick Bubb, an independent retail analyst, said the early sales will just mean less business later in December, and make customers less willing to pay full prices in the run-up to Christmas.

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