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Black Friday gets nasty in the UK

Nov 28 2014 11:02

Black Friday mayhem at a Tesco in the UK on Friday. (Photo: Twitter).

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London - Police were called to Tesco stores in northwest England overnight following disturbances as shoppers queued for Black Friday discounts.

Officers were sent to seven outlets in the Manchester area, Greater Manchester police said today by e-mail. Two men were ejected from the grocer’s Central Park, Wigan store after reports of several hundred people trying to enter, police said. Crowds of 500 plus were reported outside other supermarkets.

Black Friday has caught on in the UK and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by US retailers online.

Britons are expected to spend £200m (R3.45bn) more today than the average, according to researcher Mintel. That’s about 20% more than a typical December Friday and roughly double last year’s increase, Mintel says.

New Look, a 1 100-store clothing chain, is today running a “fashion frenzy” for the first time with as much as 50% off items including coats, scarves and sweaters. Marks & Spencer Group Plc is discounting coats and fleeces by as much as 30%. Topshop, owned by billionaire Philip Green, has cut the price of some warm clothing by as much as 50%.

Black Friday comes to the UK

Although Londoner Hannah Lyons didn’t have turkey and pumpkin pie yesterday, she will still be participating in that other Thanksgiving ritual: Looking for deep discounts at the mall.

See these videos of fights breaking out in the UK:







“I’ve got my credit card at the ready,” the 30-year-old business fashion student said while shopping at the Westfield White City mall in London’s Hammersmith borough.

That’s right. Black Friday, the annual rite of retail that commands American attention the day after Thanksgiving, is catching on around the world. Though the US is the only nation to gather for a family meal on the fourth Thursday in November, people from London to Leipzig to London, Ontario, are starting to rush big box stores the following day.

The trend of discounts to kick off the Christmas shopping season - a staple of US retailing for decades - reached neighbouring Canada about five years ago, though Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October. The rise of the internet has made it a worldwide phenomenon, as customers are always just one click away from the deals offered by US e-tailers, even if shipping fees often erase the price advantage.

“The consumer is savvy,” said Chris Morton, chief of Lyst, a London-based online fashion marketplace that expects a sixfold increase in traffic outside the US this weekend due to Black Friday promotions. “She knows a massive sales event happens in the US, and with e-commerce she can tap into that.”

In Costa Rica, authorities have warned consumers to beware of counterfeit goods offered in “Viernes Negro” sales. Germany’s Conrad Electronic SE is in the midst of what it calls Black Week, with deals such as 14% off a Samsung Electronics LED television.

South African supermarket chain Checkers has promised to cut prices by as much as 50% for Black Friday promotions today.

Le Black Friday

Even in France, where discounting is highly regulated, supermarket operator Casino Guichard-Perrachon, media retailer Groupe Fnac and online store La Redoute are slashing prices for what some call “Le Black Friday.” La Redoute has 55% markdowns on Braun laser hair removers, Casino is offering what it says are unbeatable prices on Nespresso coffee machines, and its online unit, CDiscount, will introduce Black Friday promotions in all eight countries where it operates, including Senegal, Vietnam, and Colombia.

Swedish online retailer CDON Group AB, which introduced the Black Friday concept last year, said sales that day were more than double those of an average Friday as it had 1.2 million website visits, 70% more than normal.

In Britain, Amazon introduced the idea in 2010, and it has since spread to at least a dozen big chains, with Marks & Spencer and J Sainsbur this year joining for the first time.

“Amazon did the groundwork in terms of increasing knowledge and awareness of the event,” said Bryan Roberts, an analyst at researcher Kantar Retail. Now “tactical bandwagon climbing” by other retailers has turned Black Friday into the biggest fixture on the British shopping calendar after December 26, Boxing Day.

The trend got a boost last year when Asda, owned by Wal-Mart, joined in with discounts on goods like TVs and gaming consoles, Roberts said.
Discount drug

A primary concern is that retailers won’t be able to return to charging full price in the traditionally lucrative month of December, Selfridges’ operations director Sue West said at a retail conference.

Black Friday “is going to change the whole shape of Christmas this year,” she said. “It’s vitally important that it’s a full-price trading period” after this weekend’s discounts.

For that reason, Kingfisher is approaching the concept gingerly. Its British home-improvement division, B&Q, will offer a half-price Bosch pressure washer and 30% off a Makita drill, but discounts will be limited when compared to those of superstore competitors, the company said.

“We’re tiptoeing in,” Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher’s chief executive officer, said by phone. “You have to be quite careful about getting on a discount drug.”

- Bloomberg.

black friday  |  retail
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