BLACK Friday caused a frenzy on Wearside as hordes of shoppers descended on retailers to snap up bargains – both in store and online.
Big names including Asda, Argos and Tesco, along with smaller retailers, opened their doors early to bargain hunters, many of whom had been queuing for hours overnight. The most popular items were electrical goods, like TVs, tablets and games consoles, while large toys and bicycles were also high on shopping the list.
And despite reports across the country of the day descending into chaos, it went off without incident on Wearside.
In Asda Leechmere, Kayleighann Dinsdale, 22, picked up a BMX bike, a scooter and a Call of Duty Xbox game – all Christmas presents.
The full-time mum said: “It was really good, very well organised. They had a queuing system and only let a few people in at a time which was good an gave everybody a chance.”
Kayleighann, of Millfield, said she spent £80 in total, which she had planned to spend on the BMX bike alone with another retailer.
First in line at Asda Boldon at 8am was Colin Hunter, who arrived at 11.30pm on Thursday and was hoping to bag a 40-inch TV – a snip at £139. The 61-year-old, who queued through the night last year for a three-piece suite for £50, said: “I’ve done this before so I thought there would be a big crowd.”
Rachel Stafstrom, 47, from Jarrow, arrived at midnight to buy a TV as a Christmas present for her three-year-old grandson.
“We’ve had a good laugh in the queue, we are all best friends now,” she said.
An Asda spokesperson said: “After months of planning and preparation we’ve welcomed over two million customers come into our stores today who’ve snapped up our incredible Black Friday deals. In the first two hours alone we sold over 10,000 tablets. There are still a number of Black Friday products on sale and we are anticipating many more customers in store throughout the rest of the day.”
An Argos spokeswoman said: “Due to unprecedented customer interest in Black Friday, we’re currently seeing record numbers of visitors to our website. In fact, between 8am - 9am this morning was our busiest ever hour with, on average, 17,000 visits every minute.
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “Police were there to monitor the situation. There were no issues reported and no arrests were made.”
John Hannett, from the shop workers’ union USDAW, had warned earlier: “Black Friday can be very difficult for staff. With overcrowded shops and highly excited customers, sometimes tempers flare and things can get out of control.
“Retail staff are keen to give great customer service and are trained to provide a good shopping experience, but that can be difficult if people are angry and aggressive.
“So my message to the shopping public is clear. Enjoy Black Friday, I hope you get what you’re looking for and at a great price, but please keep your cool and respect shop workers.”
Visa has predicted that £518m was be spent online on cards yesterday, which would mean it is the biggest internet shopping day in history in the UK.
It estimates that online transactions will top 8.5 million alone, up 22 per cent on 2013.
Another £500 million is forecast to be spent online on Monday, meaning the UK will shop its way to a £1.7 billion “cyber weekend” with a predicted record 31 million online transactions.