Black Friday saw shoppers across the UK go on a gigantic spending spree with final takings expected to hit a record £1.97 billion as customers hunt for bargains ahead of price hikes expected in 2017.
Retailers were battling it out with both in-store and online bargains, offering up deals in the battle to lure shoppers who are facing the threat of steep price increases in the New Year in the wake of the pound’s post-European Union referendum slump.
However, this year there was little sign of the frenzy of 2014, when fights broke out between customers when the US import hit Britain. Instead Scots once again turned to the internet to net bargains before shops opened their doors.
Experts said the “Black Friday bubble” may have burst, with customer behaviour becoming more sophisticated resulting in a number of retailers including shopping centres such as intu Braehead near Glasgow, spreading their Black Friday event across four days, or even longer.
Black Friday’s online spending is expected to reach £1 billion, up 16 per cent on last year, in contrast to high street stores which are forecasting sales of around £961 million.
Predictions are that consumers will spend £5.8bn over the four days culminating with “Cyber Monday” when online sales are set to soar.
Yesterday, shoppers looking to click on Black Friday bargains took to social media to report problems as they attempted to buy goods online.
Would-be splurgers said the websites of high street shops New Look and River Island, and online retailer Misguided, were crashing.
John Lewis said it was taking five orders every second online and the busiest period so far had been between 8am and 8:30am as people shopped on their way into work.
It also saw a spike of sales made through mobile phones between 8am and 9am, with a 21 per cent increase.
More than half a million people visited the Currys PC World website before 6am on the morning of Black Friday.
The chain has reported its “highest ever” number of orders – with an increase of 40 per cent on last year.
Gary Turnbull, general manager for intu Braehead in Renfrew, near Glasgow, said: “This is the first year a significant number of retailers have spread their discounting over several days and not just on Black Friday.
“This gives shoppers more time and a bigger window of opportunity to take advantage of these bargains, which in turn, potentially increases business for retailers.”